Teacher Review For NOVA Elements

Great anecdotal and engaging videos describing some elements, loud and annoying atom building activity

Marilyn G.
Classroom teacher
Santa Barbara Junior High School
Santa Barbara, CA
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My Grades 8
My Subjects Science
My Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement 4
Pedagogy 3
Support 3
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Creation
Further application
Knowledge gain
Small group
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Special needs
How I Use It
I loved The Interactive Periodic Table. The videos were a great way to engage the students, David Pogue is informative, funny with a dash of middle school humor (He breaks a sample of high tech glass in the Silicon video). The videos are of enhancements of the traditional information for each element. For example, Pogue visits a gold mine and watches the process for the element Gold and he visits a futures market for Copper. I used the videos as classroom starters to get a discussion going. The Periodic Table was also used when my students began researching their assigned element for a pamphlet and model project. Graphics are great and easy to use, the site is easy to maneuver around. The Essential Elements portion works for higher level students who already have a fair understanding of the structure of the atom. I like how he shows different molecules. However, the building an atom in which students place protons, neutrons and electrons in an atom, has a laser like sound that is very distracting and once students found that sound there was no stopping them! Once you add a proton, you cannot see it - which makes sense for it is small- yet for a beginner this is not very useful and results in just a lot of noise there is a table to keep track of protons etc but it is very small. For advanced learners, however, building larger molecular models is interesting but only in a playful way. I would use this section as a short exploratory activity for advanced learners.
My Take
I like this product. It is easy to use. The Periodic Table portion is a wealth of information and engaging videos. It is great for a class setting in which the teacher presents a short video to start a discussion. In small groups, it can be used as a jigsaw to investigate a given set of elements and in an individual setting a student can explore at their own pace and watch videos repeatedly to pick up information at their own speed. It would be great to add a section for beginners to create atoms in which individual protons, neutrons and electrons were shown as they were added to help the students visualize the atom.