Rocking with QR codes

I’m teaching Year 7s about rocks and their origins at the moment, which includes learning about the origins of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks. Sedimentary rocks are rocks made from the bits of other rocks. Sedimentary rocks are the ones you usually find. Metamorphic rocks are rocks that have been exposed to so much heat and pressure underground that they have changed. Igneous rocks are rocks formed by volcanic activity.

The usual way to teach this is to whack up a picture of the rock cycle, point to it and just tell students where each type of rocks come from. The teacher might bring out some samples of rocks – basalt, granite, sandstone, slate. Students look at it for 5 seconds and lose interest. No one really feels connected to the experience. This is not only boring, but most students don’t remember it. So I thought I might do it different this time.

picture of rock cycle rock samples

I’ve been mucking around with QR codes for a little while now with a previous rock quiz and a geolocation game using the Aris platform. I came to the conclusion that if I want my students to know where different rocks come from, I want them to experience it and interact with the rocks in a way beyond looking at samples of rocks in the classroom.

So I decided to make a rock hunt. There’s a small courtyard near my classroom. I used Block Poster to make a gigantic image of a volcano and printed a gigantic “underground” sign. I pasted these images on the walls surrounding the courtyard and scattered different types of igneous rocks near the volcano, various metaphoric rocks near the underground sign and placed a bunch of sedimentary rocks around the place. Each rock had a QR code attached to it. When students scanned the QR code with their iPods, the rock’s name would come up. They would then need to work out whether the rock is sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous based on the location that they found the rock in.

image of giant volcano

QR code for students to practise scanning

QR codes for rocks

The rock hunt was a success, because students were able to produce a descriptive report on the three types of rocks after the rock hunt (most of them did so independently as well). I think the QR code rock hunt also allowed them to physically interact with the rocks in a simulated environment that mimicked where the rocks would normally be found.

The next time I do this activity, I would not only have the rock’s names on the QR codes. I would link the QR code of each rock to a short video about the rock. That way, not only are students interacting with the rocks, they’d be able to connect a classroom activity easily with digital resources.

And as a bonus, other teachers saw the QR codes and jumped onto free online QR code generators to try making their own.

9 thoughts on “Rocking with QR codes

  1. Great post Alice. I have only created 1 QR Code Treasure Hunt so far -last term at Tech camp with year 7-9. The students loved it though and I plan to do more. They were really engaged in a Quiz and collaborating in groups to reach an answer. I particularly liked that we could use them in a remote area, with iPods , without reliable net access too but I look forward to making some that link to sites and videos.

  2. Pingback: Rocking with QR codes | Alice Leung's blog | QR Codes in Learning |

  3. Hi Alice, great use of QR codes in learning. We’ve been doing a lot with QR codes in our library and have been talking to teachers about their use for learning, I’m sure they find this a really practical use to enhance student learning in science.

  4. Pingback: Rocking with QR codes | QR Codes in Learning |

  5. Hello Alice. I knew nothing about QR codes until reading your blog and deciding to use them to create a lesson on solids liquids and gases/particle theory of matter. So easy to use! So easy to generate. I have played around today with generating codes with titles, information and links to videos/websites etc. Got a way to go but love the idea of QR codes and tested what I have done on a 12 year old. His reply “cool”! So thank you

    • That’s great to hear. I think we’re just seeing the beginning of QR codes with heaps of teachers experimenting to see how it can work for them. In a few years time, we might be doing super awesome things with QR codes to improve learning.

      • Thank you for replying but thank you even more so for sharing. You are clearly passionate about teaching, learning, science and technology and it is really great that not only do you seek to improve and do better but you share it. I will never be entrepeurial or innovative but when people such as you share wonderful ideas you make it very easy for people to step up and try heighten the bar. I have just been looking for timelapse videos in the Antarctic to add to the lesson and muck around with links to key words, worksheets etc

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