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Grade Range
4th
Group Size
Entire class
Active Time
40 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes
Area of Science
Computer Science
Key Concepts
Light, sound, vibrations, signals, communication, graphing and understanding data
Learning Objectives
  • State what a microphone, light sensor, and accelerometer measure.
  • Compare different methods to send a signal and determine which one works best over shorter versus longer distances.
  • Interpret graphical data from a microphone, light sensor, or accelerometer and give explanations of what could have caused changes in the graph.
works with google science journal app

Overview

Here is a challenge for your students: you need to send a number to someone on the other side of the classroom. The twist? You are not allowed to talk, write the number down, or use gestures or sign language! How would you do it? In this project, your students will explore different means of transmitting information by sending a message to a phone that can graph light, sound, and vibrations using Google's Science Journal app. They will learn about different sensors and interpreting graphs, and use the data they gather to collaborate and determine how best to transmit the message.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • 4-PS4-3. Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design solution.
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. Different solutions need to be tested in order to determine which of them best solves the problem, given the criteria and the constraints.
Patterns. Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort and classify designed products.

Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Knowledge of relevant scientific concepts and research findings is important in engineering.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


Smartphone and flashlight
  • Flashlight
  • Smartphone or tablet with Google's Science Journal app, available for free on Google Play for Android devices (version 4.4 or newer) or from the App Store for iOS devices (iOS 9.3 or newer).
    Note: This project was tested with the Android version of Science Journal in which light intensity is measured using the ambient light sensor and given in lux. The iOS version uses the phone's camera to measure brightness resulting in data expressed in EV (Exposure Value). Lux values and Exposure Values are not the same. Whereas Exposure Value is a base-2 logarithmic scale, the lux scale is linear. This might affect your data and result in different values and graphs when you are using an iOS version of the app—both versions will work for this project though. The graph examples given in the procedure show light intensity in lux.

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Grade Range
4th
Group Size
Entire class
Active Time
40 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes
Area of Science
Computer Science
Key Concepts
Light, sound, vibrations, signals, communication, graphing and understanding data
works with google science journal app
Learning Objectives
  • State what a microphone, light sensor, and accelerometer measure.
  • Compare different methods to send a signal and determine which one works best over shorter versus longer distances.
  • Interpret graphical data from a microphone, light sensor, or accelerometer and give explanations of what could have caused changes in the graph.

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