Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Researching with Google Cultural Institute and Creating with Build with Chrome, by Katherine Hlousek, Librarian, Emiliano Zapata Academy

While searching for Chrome apps and extensions to explore with students, I discovered Build with Chrome. Students love Legos and Build with Chrome provided the perfect opportunity to incorporate and blend research with creativity, making, and technology in the library.
During this unit fourth grade students explored two resources from Google: Google Cultural Institute and Build with Chrome. Google Cultural Institute is a “digital platform that aims to make world culture available to anyone, anywhere. It brings together millions of artifacts and includes collections from all kinds of museums, historical foundations, and education-focused organizations.” There are a wide variety of collections to explore on Google Cultural Institute, such as World Wonders. Also, if needed, there are brief videos of how to use the Google Cultural Institute site as well as additional information about the Google Cultural Institute.
Students explored several world landmarks using Google Cultural Institute before selecting a building or architect to research further. After selecting a building, students then used Encyclopedia Britannica and the Gale research databases to seek answers to research questions. Students organized their research using a graphic organizer that was shared with students via Google Classroom. Once students completed their research, students advanced to the next portion of the unit, designing a building or structure using Build with Chrome.
Build with Chrome allows students to virtually design, build, and create using 3D LEGOs. Build with Chrome is web-based and works on desktop or mobile devices using the Chrome browser. Within Build with Chrome, students can select an exact location on a Google Map to build their virtual LEGO creation. When building, students can select from a variety of Lego bricks, change the color, and rotate the bricks or the entire board.

Before building, I shared this short video from Build with Chrome with students. Also, Build Academy provides a number of tutorials and challenges to introduce students to features within the Build with Chrome creation site. Depending on the class, some students might jump right into building, while it might be helpful for other students to explore the tutorials on Build Academy to become familiar with the various building tools. The tutorials begin at a basic level, such as learning how to rotate the baseplate, and become more complex to develop one’s master builder skills.
In order to save one’s final project on Build with Chrome, one has to log in using a Google+ account. An option going forward would be to have students use a general library Gmail account to save and share projects. Finished work that has been shared using Google+ appears on a Build with Chrome Google Map. Zapata students took a screenshot in order to share their final creation with the class.
This project allowed students to explore, imagine, research, and create using the library Chromebooks.  

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