Making safety videos in a STEM elective class can be a great way to engage students and introduce them to important safety concepts. When students create videos about content, they both remember the information and engage more with learning (Green 2014)(Benedict & Pence 2012).
I teach a 1-semester STEM elective class for 7th and 8th graders, and this is the first project that I assign students. It introduces them to skills we’ll use the entire semester, such at the video tools in their iPad and the engineering design cycle.
Want this lesson plan in a class-ready presentation, including grading suggestions? Check it out on TPT!
What You Need For This Project
- iPads (my students are issued 1:1), or student devices for filming and at least one chromebook/laptop per group for editing
- Optional: ‘prop-able’ iPad cases, tripods, stacks of textbooks.
- Normal lab and safety equipment as props.
- Brainstorming tools. I got a stack of cheap whiteboards at the Target Dollar Spot one time, and from Amazon these whiteboard markers, which have lasted me a year and a half so far.
- About a week of class time, depending on skill/experience of your students
Project Goals – Students Can:
- Identify common pieces of lab & engineering equipment
- Articulate (in writing or speech) the importance of lab safety (WHST 6-8.2, 6-8.4)
- Explain the logic behind the most common lab safety rules
- Perform a simple “what could go wrong” risk assessment for a given scenario
- Film, edit, and submit simple video content using iMovie (or similar)
- Define criteria and constraints for the project in their own words (MS-ETS1-1)
- Consider impacts on people and the environment when designing solutions (MS-ETS1-1)
- Evaluate competing safety videos (from Youtube) using a checklist to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)
- Calculate and compare average scores from a rubric (6.SP.5c)*
- Evaluate their own completed project (reflection, MS-ETS1-2)
1. The Background
Begin by introducing the concept of safety videos. Have students brainstorm why they are important, and what topics they can cover (such as lab safety, emergency procedures, etc). Then, have students write a 100-word essay explaining how to be safe in science class, before you cover any specifics. Collect these, but don’t mark them yet- you’ll add to them at the end.
2. The Problem
Then, introduce the problem: students see safety videos, lectures, quizzes every year, and often times they are boring, don’t cover equipment or situations relevant to their school, have 6 million rules that are hard to remember, etc.
3. Criteria & Constraints
Brainstorm As Groups
Have students work in groups to come up with their top 5 criteria. Hand out whiteboards, split the groups, give the mission, and set a timer for 1-3 minutes. You don’t want them overthinking it.
Bring the group in to discuss. Have each team share their top 5.
- Early in the semester, you may want to first give a reminder about respectful, active listening.
- Come up with a consensus – a class-wide top 5.
- Some ideas from my class were “funny” “not too long” “covers at least 5 rules” “can understand what they’re saying”
Write the rubric.
- Have students turn those 5 general criteria into specific success levels. Describe 2-1-0 points for each. In a small class, you can do this all together.
- One idea for a larger class is to list the 5 criteria, and split the class into 5 smaller groups to create the rubric for one line. Once their group has come up with the success criteria, they can come write it on the board. Once all groups have shared, you and the students can share constructive criticism – how to make the rubric simple and easy to use.
- If you’re more digital, share out a Google Doc at this point with a blank rubric template. Then, have students comment or suggest in the Google Doc to improve and come to agreement. There’s a template for this with my slides on Teachers Pay Teachers
Does this take time? Yes. But it’s an important part of teaching students how to come up with criteria for success, and with that – how to make sure that THEY are meeting those criteria.
- Once you have your agreed upon rubric, you have two choices (based on timing). Type it up and copy it so that students can evaluate the options on paper. Alternatively, leave the “master rubric” on the whiteboard, and give students scraps of paper for the evaluation step. Still type and share to your Google Classroom, so that Bobby in the Back can pull it up to see, and to use again later.
4. Evaluating Other People’s Videos
Using the rubric that the students generated, show 3-5 safety videos on Youtube. I have linked some good ones that are middle-school appropriate, but you are welcome to pick others! You will want to have a range of choices, including at least one physics or engineering focused option that mentions electricity. Don’t be afraid to go “ok, we get the gist, let’s stop it there before we fall asleep”.
Lab Safety DOs and DON’Ts
Flinn Safety Challenge (a classic)
Safety, so hot right now (with the Science Hutch) – includes dunking a coach in the safety shower
Calculating the Scores (the M in STEM)
After each video, have students come up with a score out of ten, then “report” their score (I have a place on the whiteboard). You’ll want to do this one video at a time so that the kids aren’t tempted to change previous scores if they see a better/worse video.
After all the videos are done, have students each pull out a calculator and find the mean score for each video. As a group, find the median and mode. Then compare – which video scored the best? The worst? Have a discussion about what the students thought made a “good” safety video.
5. Planning & Storyboarding
Next, have students brainstorm ideas for their videos. Have them think about what topics they want to cover, what visuals they could use, and what safety messages they want to get across. The first time I did this project, I gave students free reign here and got some blank stares – too many decisions.
I assign each group a scenario – a situation similar to something we face in the class. They have to evaluate the hazards and potential emergencies, what can be done to prevent problems, and what safety equipment to use.
They use this risk assessment to plan a safety video, following the agreed-upon constraints. You can choose to give additional constraints – based on materials available, or timeline, etc. Make sure that they know what materials they will need. At this point, you are the “consultant/voice of reason”.
For example, the first time I did this project with a class, all groups wanted to do something “with a big explosion” to show why it’s important to wear your goggles or something. I said, OK, but it’s going to be baking soda and vinegar, food coloring optional.
One group wanted to show how to clean up broken glass. They filmed an intact beaker, someone throwing a football in the lab, and then some previously-broken glass from the glass disposal bin. They edited in the “breaking glass” sound, and it worked out.
A group wanted to “test” the safety shower with someone in it. I said that they couldn’t dunk each other, but could dunk me, and got one take.
Decide up front: Will you let them run the safety shower? Does the drain work? How about the eye wash? What extra props are you willing to let students use?
5b. How to Use iMovie
You will get some kids that already have active TikToks and are better at film editing than you, and some that are unaware that there’s a video option on their school-issued iPad. Depending on how well you know your students, you could show this to your whole class or just post it for reference. I actually teach this part as a 1-day project the week before, to get a feel of how comfortable my students are with tech.
6. Filming, Editing, and Filming Again
Give each group the resources they need to create their videos (such as props, backgrounds, etc). Give them some kind of guideline about how long filming is allowed to take, otherwise they can and will screw around and take longer than you expected. It’s always easier to say “you have 30 minutes to film” and then give extra time, then to find that they AREN’T done at the end of a 80 minute block.
7. Share and evaluate
Prep: Pull up all the video files/links to load in the background so that this goes smoothly. Print copies of the rubric from step 3 and cut out.
Distribute rubric copies to the class or scratch paper with a projected rubric. Once the videos are complete, show them to the class.
As you watch them, have students evaluate all of the videos.
Optional: When you reach a relevant project during the semester, re-show that video to remind students how to be safe.
Pass back the 100-word essays from the start. Have students read their own essays and add another 100-200 words about what they learned.
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