Smartpen Science Ideas

Smartpen science ideas have been created by science teachers at all levels. These instructors are using smartpens and pencasts to "clone" themselves to support and engage students inside and outside of their classrooms since the dawn of the "Smartpen Era" in 2008. Since then, they and their students have been very prolific in creating new ways to use this technology to improve learning and have a little fun too!

Janice Crowley of Wichita Collegiate School in Wichita, Kansas was one of the first to begin creating smartpen science activities in her chemistry classes, and use of the Livescribe smartpen in her school exploded. In this video, Janet explains her creation of 5-minute pencasts to support student learning.

Browse the smartpen science ideas below for some great smartpen implementation ideas for your classroom and feel free to share your own smartpen science ideas with us!

Create Audio Lab Instructions to Complement Written Instructions

Use a Livescribe smartpen with dot paper or Sound Stickers to add your voice or the voice of an assistant (or upper level science student) to written science lab instructions. This will help students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities listen publicly or privately to instructions as many times as they need perhaps with the audio playback speed slowed down. 

Use this idea for students who are absent, by creating a "lab in a box" that can be completed independantly upon their return.

Create and Practice Vocabulary Using Auditory Flashcards

Use Livescribe Sound Stickers or dot paper cut into shapes to add audio reinforcement to flashcards.

The video below shows a science example of Auditory (or "Talking") Flashcards.

The flashcard set below contains an audio dot on each card with the correct pronunciation of difficult-to-pronounce elements from the periodic table.

On the other side, each card contains the element symbol.

smartpen science ideas

Add Student Voices to Science Projects

Encourage students to add their voices (or sounds, speeches, etc from the internet) to elements of their science projects using Sound Stickers or audio dots, as you see in this video example of a collaborative rainforest oral project. Parents and other students can listen to each recording by tapping on the Sound Stickers with the smartpen used to record the audio.

Adding sounds to projects adds an entire other dimensions to standard projects, allowing opportunities for even more creativity by students!

NOTE: Don't forget how much audio is available from the Internet. Short sound clips are easy to come by.

Interactive Audio Study Guide

By printing a human skeleton or other visual on Livescribe dot paper a student can attach audio to a description of each bone or element in the visual. Slip it in a plastic protector sheet or laminate and they’ve created an interactive talking study guide.

For an assessment that uses the student's voice for answers, print the same study guide on dot paper and give students a certain amount of time, and ask them to add ink with audio to each element.

An Interactive Audio Study Guide is an excellent reteaching/study tool, especially for students that need to hear the repeated audio to make thoughts or terms really sink in and make connections.

Record & Share Student-Think-Alouds as Pencasts

Engage students in problem solving by inviting them to solve chemistry, engineering, physics, and other problems as think alouds using smartpens and their writing and explanations. Use these for formative assessments, ePortfolios, or libraries of good solutions after having other students grade them with a rubric and approve them for sharing.

Clone the Teacher With Pencasts

Pencasts can also be used to provide front-of-the-class instruction to students while facilitating side-by-side learning with them during class. 

Watch biology teacher Lina Patten explain how she incorporates pencasts in her frog dissections.


Class Note Taking and Sharing of Notes as Pencasts

Teachers or professors can have a different student (or students) take notes each day during the lesson using the class smartpen and then share these notes online with all students and parents to support learning.

A great example of this can be found at Sue Glascoe's sample classroom site, where she has posted a typical week schedule - complete with teacher-created tutorials, board notes, and student notes.

Sue created this website when the Echo Community for sharing pencasts was still alive. To create a website like this now, the teacher would need to link to pencast files that were hosted somewhere else, like Google Drive or an LMS.

share student pencasts

Tell us how you're using the Livescribe smartpen to teach science...

Share your activity idea and we'll pass it along for others to benefit from.