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Ministry of Education.
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Bitesize testing the properties of materials

Resource review

Description

Bitesize is a free BBC online study support resource for UK teachers and students. Although the Key Stage 2 pages focus on English, Maths, and Science, some of the activities in the Science section also apply to Technology.

Curriculum/Qualifications links

The Bitesize resources obviously relate to the UK curriculum, but the testing activity neatly links to the New Zealand Technology curriculum. As stated in the Indicators of Progression, students working at Level 1 in the Technological Products component of the Technological Knowledge strand will "understand that technological products are made from materials that have performance properties".

This activity teaches students not only about the performance properties of materials, but also how the choice of materials and therefore their properties is important for the product.

Content

Bitesize is a free BBC online study support resource for UK teachers and students. It is divided into four sections: GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), Key Stage 1 (Years 1-2), Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6), and Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

Although the Key Stage 2 pages focus on English, Maths, and Science, some of the activities in the Science section also apply to Technology. The online testing activity 'Characteristics of Materials' introduces students to the necessity of testing materials to ensure that their properties are suitable for the intended outcome.

Students move a range of materials into a 'tester' to check whether they are strong, transparent, waterproof, or flexible. They then look at a range of products, such as a saucepan, and check the suitability of metal, rubber, paper, and plastic for that product.

The sound effects, such as glass shattering, add an authentic effect but aren't essential to the activity. There is a 'full screen' icon to click on for easier viewing when students are sharing a computer.

Students test metal, paper, fabric, rubber, glass, and plastic in the virtual 'testing room' to find out if they are waterproof, flexible, strong, or transparent. They can then move to the virtual 'workshop' to check which materials are most suitable for a car tyre, saucepan, notebook, towel, sports bottle, and window. Selena Hinchco, facilitator of the Resource Development and Facilitation: Years 7-10 Technology Project, has used this activity with her students and says, "After discovering that a sports bottle made from fabric will leak and that a glass bottle can't be squeezed, students could go on to discuss what properties these materials don't have and start to look at the attributes of a water bottle by linking it to the material it's made out of."

The Characteristics of Materials page has, in conjunction with the game, student reading material about materials and their properties and an online quiz. (Click on the Materials heading and go to Characteristics of Materials)

Ease of use

Once started, the activity is very straightforward (and technology-savvy students will probably work out the game faster than a teacher new to the site!). However, finding the website page can be confusing as there is no link to Bitesize on the BBC general site, and just typing in the name can lead to various sections of the site.

(To find it through their schools page click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ and go to Bitesize > KS2Bitesize > Science > Materials > Characteristics of Materials > Play)

How to play:

After clicking 'OK', choose a material (using left/right arrows), drag it into the 'tester' and then click on 'Is it waterproof?'

Students will need to choose a material that is not waterproof before they can test for strength, flexibility, and transparency.

 Note: pop-up comment only occurs with the first test of metal and paper.

Test the best materials for a range of products by clicking on 'Workshop'. Choose an object from the bottom of the screen and drag it onto the 'blueprint' to see what happens when it is made from different products.

Rating

Selena comments that this is a fun activity which students really enjoy. "It's nice and interactive for them. It's a neat starter but there's a limited range of materials and properties, so you would then have to take it to the next step to look at more properties and more materials."

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