Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom