Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, has a Citizen Science project to research the correlation of snow flake shapes and weather conditions. Tahoe Lake Elementary was one of the schools selected to be part of their sponsored project this past year. As such we were able to borrow a number of their photography kits to have students take photos of snowflakes to upload to their project. Tahoe Lake already had iPads, and the photo kids include a macro lens, a catch pad, and a carrying case. The app is a free download (Citizen Science Tahoe) which we put on the iPads in the iPad cart for use by any student.
The macro lenses that come with the kits are rubber band mounted, so are not really stretchy enough and durable enough to be used repeatedly on the iPads. The thought is that if we had our own macro lenses, we could continue the project, but the existing kits could go to another school next year, adding to their student participation. If we cannot obtain the catch pads that DRI uses and lent to us with the kits, can do something similar with black felt swatches - very easily and cheaply replaceable.
This is a great use of local resources and local "real science" for our students, as we definitely have a number of snowy days, and weather is very relevant to our students. Desert Research Institute is a local science resource to partner with. With the materials permanently on site instead of seasonally on loan, then students could use the materials through both the Science Lab and through their classroom teachers, if any particular teacher wanted to access them.
Stories in the Snow is a research based project that is truly STEAM - using the science of weather, technology via the iPad and a particular app and its navigation, and the art of photography skills. It is community science, allowing students to contribute to the local database in a fun and meaningful way. Any student can participate, but third grade studies weather as part of their NGSS standards, so it is particularly relevant to them.
The grant would go towards the purchase of twelve clip-on macro lenses to be used with the existing iPads. The Citizen Science app is free. The lenses could also be used for other science purposes, such as examining closeups of small flora and fauna, or also to be used for technology photography.