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Steven Elwood


When Steven Elwood was asked by the Webmasters of the Twin Lakes School Corporation in Monticello, Indiana, to prepare a 20-minute radio program about science, he took the assignment one step further.

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"I felt that radio was not a good media for a mostly visual subject like science, so I decided to make a short video about science using demonstrations to explain concepts," said Elwood, an eighth grade science teacher at Roosevelt Middle School. "I have wanted to implode a large barrel for several years. I had only one barrel, so I knew that I would have to videotape it so I could show it to everyone. This sounded like a good opportunity."

Elwood used two digital video cameras with tripods, and a laptop equipped with video editing software to create a video of the imploding barrel experiment illustrating air pressure. Although he didn't have specific goals for publishing his video online, Elwood enjoys sharing classroom activities with students and their parents in that format, so designing the online presentation was a challenge he couldn't pass up.

Steven Elwood provides online videos to share complex concepts in physics with his eighth grade students and parents

"I used the video in my classroom to demonstrate the power of air pressure, and my students really enjoyed and understood the concept," reported Elwood. "The video made in our science classroom and posted on the Internet made the topic more interesting. Several parents have since come up to me around town to tell me that their sons and daughters dragged them to the computer to watch the video. They have enjoyed it too."

Students who are entertained as they learn retain knowledge better than students who are merely given information, Elwood believes. He uses simple toys to demonstrate such advanced concepts in physics as gravity, centripetal motion, and Newton's Laws. Students typically leave his classroom at the end of the year with a collection of several inexpensive toys to help them remember the concepts theyve encountered.

Elwood's imploding barrel shows the power of air pressure.

The experience of designing a video for his classroom and the Web was so rewarding for Elwood that he now has plans for additional programs about Bernoulli's Principal, Newton's Laws, and gravity. All his presentations can be accessed from his Web site, Mr. Elwood's Classroom. Elwood hopes other educators will make use of his videos and share their feedback via e-mail.

"The key to making a good video is to make sure you have good editing software," observed Elwood. "I try to keep the final video down to around five minutes in length. Most of the time, a longer video takes too much time to download, especially for people with a dial-up connection."

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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