In an effort to prepare elementary teachers for using technology in the classroom, the elementary education faculty were tasked with integrating appropriate strategies into our instruction. During that same semester, the elementary science methods students were given the opportunity to borrow an iPad to use for five weeks. I was the first instructor to pass out the iPads to find ways to use the mobile applications to teach science. Finding science mobile applications was not difficult, but finding examples that represented science in authentic ways were difficult to find.
At the time iTunes organized the science mobile applications by subject not grade level or I assumed that it would be best to go by subject area. I searched for any science topic that would improve teaching science using the iPad. There were apps with animal sounds and pictures, National Science Foundation apps (e.g., Science360), and great apps for capturing student ideas ScreenChomp and Educreations. Sometime during my search I came across Expedition WhiteShark that reports tagged shark location data along with pictures and video showcasing each shark.
A teacher could ask students to interpret the data collected to understand the behavior of sharks. I knew that whatever I did with presenting mobile applications and teaching science it needed to be set-up like Expedition WhiteShark. However, my area is chemistry. There was the expensive The Elements, representing the elements with fantastic pictures; mobile applications with a cartoon character or cartoonish representation of the particles of the atom; and the apps that showed a video of various chemistry experiments. Nothing I wanted to use in my classroom because of cost, inappropriate for younger children or not engaging students in real science practices. It was at this point that I happened to meet with Doug Golick on an unrelated topic. I began complaining about how chemistry was represented in a way that would not be useful for sharing with the elementary methods students. Of course, his response was “you need to build it then.” From there, we added Soo-Young Hong to the group and the rest is history.