Cross-class Collaboration Projects

Today’s post comes from Daryl Taylor, a high school physics and astronomy teacher in Connecticut. It was originally posted in response to this question on the NSTA Physics Listserv: “Has anyone had students collaborate with another class in a different locality for any class projects or assignments?”

I have, and love to, run collabs with various schools around the world just about any chance I can.

  1. We’ve recently run a parallax project (Astro-based) with a physics class in California; results weren’t great, but made the point.
  2. I run, based on a CIESE NJIT collab project, a “Circumference of Earth” collab any time I can get a school far away and at a very different latitude; results are always within a few %; unheard of accuracy in the Fizzix classroom.
  3. A few yrs ago, we ran a collab with a Forensics class in South Jersey. They were doing a “Who Done It” type of project and they (a teacher I used to work with) enlisted my Fizzix class help. They sent us images of blood spatter and foot and hand prints and the “crime” scene in general. My kids had to research and learn a little “blood spatter” physics, (including enlisting a guest expert from the local police dept!) and submitted their “FBI (Fizzix Blood Investigators) lab report” via PDF files and a Skype session. The Jersey Forensics class then went further and held a mock trial type thing with their Mock Trial Team and we watched as the audience and expert witnesses via Skype. Was great fun and kids (and I) learned the proverbial ton.
  4. Year-long project with another school to build a “self-sustaining human habitat in a locale considered non-habitable”. Kids decided to build a habitat under the Pacific Ocean (I thought the Moon or Mars, but NOOOOooo….) complete with alternate energy sources (including a ‘back-up’ nuclear plant…) and even a specific population hand-picked by the “planning committee”. Really cool. Did a lot of Distance Learning stuff and covered topics that absolutely amazed me.
  5. Also based on a CIESE project, The Boiling Point Project, I try to find a physics and/or chemistry class somewhere at a very high elevation, like Boulder or Denver or Mexico City, to run two collabs at once: boiling point of water and acceleration of gravity. If properly equipped and labs are run precisely, results on both are great. Email, text, and Skype are used to keep classes up to snuff with each other. In fact, each Lab group includes two of my kids and two of their kids so they HAVE to share and collab differently than a self-contained classroom situation.
  6. I’ve even just taken a basic high school lab like diffraction and ran a collab (Co-Lab, get it? I crack myself up….) with another school just to get twice the data and more worthy results. Also gets kids involved outside the “four walls”. It’s also quite cool to collab with a local or not-local college on regular class labs. They normally have fancy machines that go ‘ping’ while we don’t. Run the same lab and compare. Sometimes, the expensive machines that go ‘ping’ do no better than a meter stick and persistence. Sometimes the expensive machines that go ‘ping’ kick the meter stick’s butt.

Hope this helps. Anyone want to join some collabs this year?

Daryl L Taylor
Main website for teachers :
Main website for students :
Teacher/Personal Blog:
Student Blog:

4 responses to “Cross-class Collaboration Projects

  1. Hello, Frank Noschese, my name is Tyler Davis and I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class and I have been assigned to summarize your posts for my class on my blog. My link is blog and my class blog is
    I found this blog from Daniel Taylor very interesting because of how he has a passion to help his students learn about physics. I thought the blood spatter project was thoroughly interesting because I am a fan of the show “Dexter” and in that he is a blood spatter expert, and just the fact that your doing projects with students on that was a really awesome idea. I also like the fact that he gets involved with not only his local students but students across the country as well as the world. It is a great idea because he can take all the different approaches and combine it into one to get the most data available just like he said.

  2. Hi, Frank Noschese, my name is Brianne Woods. I am a student at the University of south Alabama and i am currently an Elementary Education major. I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class and i will be summarizing my visits to your blog with a post on my blog on Sept. 11,2011. Here is a link to my blog and also a link to my class blog
    Dear Mr. Noschese, I found the blog you posted by Mr. Taylor very interesting. I feel like he definitely loves teaching and learning through teaching. I think the best thing about his response is that it shows how much emphasis he puts on different ways of teaching. Collaborations are very useful in keeping students interested and helping them to have an open mind and Mr. Taylor uses this strategy very well.

  3. I love this post! Hopefully, when I get my feet underneath myself a little better this year I will be pestering you for advice. I would very much like to be involved in this whole process. I’m teaching 6 different classes this year (3 are brand new to me) so I’m just trying to keep ahead of the work right now. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be in contact about how to proceed. You are where I want to be!

  4. Hello Mr. Noschese,
    My name is Kevin Hutchinson, and I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I am a secondary education history major, so science is usually a little foreign to me. However, these collaborative lab exercises are great. Daryl Taylor’s classroom has no boundaries. Student’s are able to have classmates all over the world, and that is mind blowing. The forensics “Who Done It” project looked extremely interesting. With the forensic based television shows’ popularity at an all time high, I am sure this activity was an immediate hit with the students. For someone who has never been a science whiz, an activity such as this may have been helpful for me. It is a perfect example of encouraging creativity in the classroom. I will be reading an summarizing more of you post on my blog I look forward to seeing more excellent examples of creative, project based learning.

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