The term exploratorials came into being during a project at the University of NSW that sought to combine lecture and tutorial based work with exploratory laboratory-based activities, hence the term exploratorials. The project was re-named "glimpses of science" when adapted to the Primary School environment as it seemed more suitable for a younger audience and helped convey the sense of a number of activities that gave some insight into the underlying science.
The Exploratorials project involves primary school teachers in the creation of multimedia-enhanced active learning modules for the teaching of science. Two primary school teachers from each of 3-4 schools will be assisted by science, education and multimedia specialists. Exploratorials innovatively integrate content delivery and laboratory style work through a guided discovery process that uses customised multimedia animations to directly illuminate concepts under investigation.
The hands-on activities are geared towards utilising inexpensive everyday objects such as plastic piping, rulers, rubber bands, toys, torches and so forth. The activities are supplemented by multimedia film clips or animations that act to support the investigative process by way of illustrating the activity or visualising material related to the concept being studied. For example, the image below shows slide 14 in a sequence of 15 slides that are then followed by a number of questions for the class to consider. The still graphic on the left, together with the two playable film clips to the right, work together to make explicit the method of cutting and blowing the straw to achieve the required sound. The image of the oboe is accompanied by a playable sound file to allow the students to listen to how a double reeded instrument sounds in an orchestral setting.
Through a logically structured sequence of activities the students are able to progress from a basic understanding of vibration and frequency through to pitch and the nature of sound waves. Activities are also structured in such a manner as to promote a fun and engaging experience.
A number of workshops offered professional development activities to primary school teachers in order to produce a number of multimedia-enhanced kits for primary school students. Topics included light, sound, pendulum and work, energy and forces.