Understanding science can be hard, not just because of the vocabulary used to described and explain scientific concepts but also abstract ideas often used to explain scientific phenomena. For example, it is a real challenge for adults and children alike to make sense of the size of the Universe, the vastness of geological time or what an atom might really look like.
School science also often suffers from the problem of disengagement by students and can be perceived as boring, unintelligible and not having any relevance to young people. Hands-on learning with digital technologies has been shown to help children engage with science by making the experience of data collection more real but also helping to make abstract ideas more tangible and meaningful.
Being fully customisable, teachers are able to modify the GeoSciTeach app to meet the specific needs of their students and design activities which are tailored for their curriculum. This means differentiation is easy and learning can be personalised, allow students to take ownership of their work and make meaning that is relevant to them.
The app allows students to collect large data sets and then analyse them, both individually and in collaboration with one another. Manipulation of the data is easy and helps students with modelling and graphical skills as well as making sense of layering processes and temporal changes. GeoSciTeach allows data to be collected and tagged to specific locations. This means that both abiotic and biotic data may be automatically linked to places in both space and time. The data can then be used to make sense of certain scientific phenomena and be manipulated to model and make predictions.
The app is very versatile and can be adapted to be used in a vast array of scientific (and wider educational) contexts. Its strength lies in how it helps support student geospatial and spatial thinking, ideas which are central to science. This can be on the macro scale, for example making sense of maps and representations in two-dimensions, through to the micro scale, for example t modelling molecular shapes and interactions. In addition, in the broader sense, the app lends itself to developing skills in the understanding of the nature science. For example, how new technology is involved in the collection and analysis of data, how it can be used to evaluate the ‘scientific method’ and its role in collaborative learning and sharing of ideas.