Dallas Middle School science students use iPads to learn

Last updated: May 02. 2013 5:27PM - 1385 Views

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Sir Isaac Newton said that a falling apple taught him the law of gravity. And today, Apple iPads are helping Dallas Middle School students learn about Newton’s laws of motion.

Sam Barbose’s sixth-grade science class at the Dallas Middle School recently used a class set of iPads to create impressive multimedia presentations about Newton’s three laws of motion.

Although the topic may seem difficult for sixth-graders to grasp, Barbose’s students used graphics and created videos to illustrate a law of motion.

Barbose explained that the students used the iPads to make the videos and then used an application called Keynote to create their slideshows.

The iPads connect with the Internet via the school’s Wi-Fi network. The classroom uses Airplay, a go-between device which allows students to stream their presentations to the large digital whiteboard in the room.

While the presentations were being given, students were expected to take notes on the presentations of other students and most chose to use their iPads for note-taking. Barbose said students could then email their notes to themselves. Students also liked making their own flashcards on the devices.

Sammy Dixon, 12, of Dallas, chose Newton’s first law to present. “I learned a lot about Newton,” she said. “I learned that if you roll a ball, eventually it will stop. The friction against the floor or the wall will stop it.”

Of the iPads, she added, “They’re really fun. It makes class more fun and not boring like reading from a book.”

Ryan Schmid, 12, of Dallas, chose Newton’s second law. “It seemed the easiest at the time,” he said. He, too, likes using the iPads. “We use them a lot in science. We have a lot of apps that help us with everyday stuff we do. Instead of writing things, we use the notes app.”

Barbose showed off the specialized cart which contains the iPads and a MacBook Pro computer. All the units can be recharged and downloaded with new applications at the same time. He said the iPads have been in place since October and there hasn’t been a single incident of damage to the devices.

About 100 students use the iPads, including science and reading classes.

Barbose’s dream of using iPads in his classroom came true because of the Dallas Foundation for Excellence in Education, Inc.

The foundation is a non-profit organization which was created in 2011. It is a 501 (c) 3 organization which can provide tax credit benefits to business contributors.

According to Kristin Gattuso, the foundation’s treasurer, the iPad cart with MacBook Pro computer and 30 iPads cost $16,448. The money was donated by local businesses who took advantage of the state’s tax credit program.

The Dallas Foundation is run by a nine-member board of volunteers which decides how the donated money is used. Teachers are welcome to make applications for projects on the foundation’s website.

Barbose is very enthusiastic about the learning atmosphere in his classroom. Of the iPad program, he said, “It’s high interest. It’s motivational. It’s easily managed.”

Barbose began his career in Florida but his wish was always to come back home which he did nine years ago. “This is my district,” he said. “I’m teaching in my ninth-grade English teacher’s classroom.”

Barbose admitted that using iPads in middle school is cutting edge. There aren’t many apps created for that age group. “You have to be creative,” he said.

Next up for his sixth-graders’ study of physics is the construction of a virtual roller coaster. Newton would surely be impressed.

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