Lesson 4: Application

Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2015 by Dr. Zhang | Mini-Course Home | Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | Lesson 3

Univ. of MN

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  • use the internet and other available resources to locate and generate a list of both computer-based visualization tools and physical models that can be used in their science classroom
  • Within the constraints of the resources available in their classroom, develop a lesson plan that incorporates student-centered use of models to promote deep understanding of a specific scientific principle

Background Information

As you have learned from lesson three, exposing students to visualization tools like computer animations, videos, and ball-and-stick models in a passive manner may not help them to gain a better understanding of a scientific concept. Educators must design instruction that requires students to be actively involved with these tools in problem-based scenarios (Rapp, 2005, p. 54). Some of the benefits of interactivity include the immediate feedback resulting from student manipulation of models and the students’ ability to control their learning through repetition and inquiry. Students who have received training and feedback from their instructors on their use of visualization tools have attained higher scores than their peers on grade level 9-12 science assessments (Hsieh and Cifuentes, 2006, p. 145).

In lessons one through three of this mini-course, you have looked at various types of visualization tools and how models are currently being used in science. In this lesson you will apply what you have learned to your own classroom environment. As a culminating activity for the course, you will create a lesson plan that includes the student-centered use of one or more visualization tools to address a common misconception or teach a new science concept to your students. Attached to the lesson plan you will include a rationale in which you justify your choice of visualization tool(s) and your methods (pedagogical approach to) of teaching/learning. You will then evaluate the work of two of your peers.

Driving Questions

As you create your lesson and evaluate the work of your peers, think about the following questions:

1. Are there any special student needs that I should consider when selecting visualization tools (student disabilities, hearing or visually impaired, etc.)?

2. Which type of model (physical, 2-D drawing, computer simulation, etc.) will be the best choice for this lesson based on its particular benefits and limitations?

3. Does the lesson incorporate student development and/or use of models to promote deeper understanding of scientific concepts?


1. Visualization Tool Library

Use the internet or other resources available to you to compile a list of at least ten new visualization tools that you could use to teach your students. University websites are an excellent place to look for free on-line simulations and virtual labs. Be sure to include resources from each of the three main types of models discussed in this course. Share these resources with your classmates on our Visualization Tool Library page. We will categorize the resources posted to this page by content area. If you do not see your subject area listed, feel free to add it to the page.

2. Lesson Plan

Create a lesson plan in your content area that incorporates the student-centered use of at least one visualization tool that you have found during your participation in this course. You may use any format that you like, but be sure to include the following information: Title/Topic, related standards, target population, student learning objectives, curriculum links, required materials, description of both the scope and sequence of the lesson, and assessments. Be specific when describing how the students will be using the visualization tools. At the end of the lesson, include a rationale for the visualization tools you chose to use. In the rationale be sure to include information about the scientific principle/ misconception addressed in the lesson and justification for your choice of visualization tools based on the specific benefits and limitations associated with the model(s) and the desired pedagogy. Post a link to your lesson plan in our Lesson Plan page.

3. Peer Evaluation

Provide an evaluation of two lesson plans created by your classmates using the following rubric:

File:Lesson Plan Evaluation Rubric.pdf

Post your numerical total and feedback on the Lesson Plan page below the link to the lesson evaluated.


1. 1. Hsieh, Y.-C. J., & Cifuentes, L. (2006). Student-generated visualization as a study strategy for science concept learning. Educational Technology & Society, 9(3), 137-148.

2. Rapp, David N. (2005). Mental models: Theoretical issues for visualizations in science education. John K. Gilber (ed.), Visualization in science education, 43-60. Netherlands.


Courtesy of Univ. of MN, CSE