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A “Dirty” Lab – Soil observations, paint colors and the iPad

May 2, 2012


Inspiration struck during the seventh grade soil observation lab. I was using the iPad for its simple feature of photography, plus a little bit of videoing as students narrated about some of the organisms in their soil samples. One of the items to record on the observation sheet was “soil color – don’t just say brown, be descriptive ex. Coffee with cream”

When a student asked me about describing the color of her soil sample, a thought occurred “I could pull up brown paint sample colors, bring the iPad around to students who ask and we could come up with a description.” When one student saw all the color options (I was on page 3 of 56 with 30 samples on each page), he started doing some math and calculating the number of different shades of brown. The class was surprised when he announced the result and understood why I wanted them to be more descriptive than “brown.” Of course, the obvious question is “Why, after 5 years of this lesson, did it take holding an IPad to have this paint sample inspiration when I could get samples color strips from a store and have brought them in?”


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