The Basics: What TimeLapse does and why we’re so excited
Somebody Should Set The Title For This Chapter!TimeLapse, a developing program that is soon to be an XO activity, will bring tremendous value to so many scientific studies in so many classrooms. It’s wide-ranging potential uses will offer teachers a tool to create a creatively flexible learning environment. In such a setting, students will be able to stretch their imaginations of what to study and how to use their findings. TimeLapse is a tool that enables users to periodically capture images or sample audio data using their XO. As fleshed out below, the ability to gather and study these types of data opens the doors for countless scientific studies. TimeLapse offers teachers and their students a straightforward technology that can be used to explore, collaborate, and push the boundaries of personal or scientific success. How we got here: Dr. Frank Linton’s ideas and original experiment To get an idea of how best to use this activity and to appreciate where it comes from, let’s take a look at Dr. Frank Linton’s inspiring story and his own use of the program. His background is comprised of what can be seen as the triumvirate of paths leading to our OLPC project: training as an engineer, a history of teaching and volunteering in underdeveloped countries, and an Ed.D in educational technologies. I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Linton believes in educating and working for a better world, and has both an idea of where we need to go and some very useful ways to get there. “Cheap technology,” says Dr. Linton, “really changes the world.” As the XO aspires to be a vehicle for that goal, TimeLapse is exactly the type of program intended to deliver improved learning environments into classrooms across the globe. Frank Linton’s own use illustrates possibilities: Dr. Linton, a hobby beekeeper, knew that the sound of bees emanating from their hive could be “almost magically revealing.” “For example,” he explained, “the great keepers know the sound of a Queen-less hive.” So, with an XO at home, Frank began to envision putting the little machine to the task of recording and monitoring the audio of the bees, with an ultimate vision of triggering messages from that data to the beekeepers. With this goal in mind, Dr. Linton collaborated with a group of students in the Arlington, Virginia public school system’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program, under the direction of Dr. Jeff Elkner, to create such a program for the OLPC XO. TimeLapse was borne of their partnership. Dr. Linton has since hypothesized that the sounds he captures on TimeLapse are in fact revealing of the hive’s health status. Running the audio clips through an analysis piece of software, then, indicates how loud each sound is by the corresponding frequency. With these measurable and legible accounts of activity, observed at different times in the day and for various lengths of time, Dr. Linton compares his data to that found in the research literature. How TimeLapse can be used in the classroom: Teacher guidance, student creativity, and lots of science to come Part of the beauty of TimeLapse (and, for that matter, science) is that the underlying principles of Dr. Linton’s skilled project are just as easily and excitingly applicable to a classroom filled with young kids. TimeLapse itself can be used for many science experiments that involve the periodic collection of data. This immense flexibility can be presented to students in a way to excite them and spark their creativity. Teachers may use this to foster a learning environment for students to grow by setting their own challenges and then working toward that end. The XO and TimeLapse are there, then, to encourage teachers to encourage students by making creative challenges more accessible, more fun, and more effective. As Dr. Linton suggests, a few examples of potential uses help us conceptualize this program’s educational possibilities. TimeLapse could be used by a student who wants to capture the motion of shadows across the school yard over the course of a day, a season, or a year. Similarly, video or images could capture the movement of the clouds across the sky, or the growth of plants over a season. Audio, like that used for Dr. Linton’s experiments, could aid the student who wants to explore the variety of birdsong throughout the day, or of a particular bird’s tune throughout the season. Personally, I remember the one (and only) science fair I entered in grade school, where two friends and I measured the apparent diameter of the moon at different altitudes. I remember how satisfying it was to collect data, to search our young and ever-curious minds for ways to relate our findings to the teachings from that year’s science class, and to then link up our own conclusions and present them to others. I can only imagine that, with TimeLapse, our data would have been more accurate, we could have collected more of it, and all-the-while we could have had more fun. Looking back on that unique educational experience gets me even more excited about the wonderful ideas that will stem from the classrooms presented with this technology. It’s great, of course, that TimeLapse will make students’ work more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. What’s more, though, is the power of this tool to unleash student’s creativity and get them thinking of what they want to learn about and explore. Limitless activities can be measured, and TimeLapse empowers students to begin their search for the predictive value that can be gained from such accounts. Have fun, and please let us know some of the new and exciting ways you and your students find to put TimeLapse to work!