Digital Mysteries: Jenny’s Shadow is a unique app for 7-11 year olds which allows pairs to work simultaneously on one iPad with a task mapped to the National Curriculum of Science.
*To see our other mysteries for ages 7-16, scroll down to Developer Apps*
Users are given illustrated slips of information which they read, organise into groups and lay out across the screen. These are all about Jenny and her friends doing an experiment at school. Whilst they are measuring their shadows outside in the school grounds, Jenny loses hers, so pupils are invited to help her figure out why.
This task could be used to develop and reinforce understanding of the everyday effects of light (that light travels from a source; that light cannot pass through some materials, and how this leads to the formation of shadows; that light is reflected from surfaces) as well as periodic changes (how the position of the Sun appears to change during the day, and how shadows change as this happens). It could also be useful to stimulate discussion relevant to the theme of scientific enquiry as pupils must use their scientific knowledge and understanding to explain Jenny and her friends’ observations.
The task is designed to encourage true collaboration between the students throughout, as well as provide moments for reflection, so it could also be used to support development of group discussion and interaction, as well as generic thinking skills.
Once students have finished the task, they can generate a printable PDF report which outlines the session; the students involved, their notes, groups and answer, as well as colourful screenshots of each stage. They can also go to a Reflection Stage in which they can playback the process and discuss it as a group, with their teacher or even as a class.
Who is this app for?
Digital Mysteries: Jenny’s Shadow works well with those aged 7-11 years old. There are 18 slips provided, and in them, there are scientific facts with playful illustrations, information on the experiment, red herrings and also some background information on the people and activities involved.
What’s different about Digital Mysteries?
• Truly collaborative: It is unique in that more than one student can interact with it at once
• Record of learning: Students can interact and have fun with exciting technology, then generate a printable PDF report of their session which shows what they’ve done
• Cross-curricular: Mysteries come in various topics plus many are cross-curricular in themselves
• Cognitive opportunities: The multiple discussion points, combined with the task’s open-ended nature, leads to students developing higher-level thinking skills
• Reflection: Sessions are automatically recorded so students can playback and discuss what they’ve done, emphasising the importance of the process as well as the outcome
• Speaking and listening: Due to its collaborative nature, each session aligns to this learning goal, plus ‘group discussion and interaction’
• Engagement: Working in pairs adds to the fun experience of problem-solving
• Research: We’ve done years of academic research on how to make the most of touch screens for learning in general, and collaboration specifically
What does a mystery consist of?
• Illustrated slips of information: Short snippets to help students with reading
• Open question: To maximise the potential of collaboration, discussion and expression of ideas, the nature of the task is usually open ended
• Extras: Most tasks come with personalised hints for those who need them, e.g. suggestions for organising ideas or simpler stage introductions
• Description: This gives teachers the information they need to plan their session including the curriculum point each task links to, the advised age range and possible learning outcomes