Caught on Video! Using handheld digital video cameras

Theme & level:  Videos, K-5 grades

This article shows how handheld video cameras could be used to enhance learning in science and engineering education.  Students in a fourth grade classroom were given the task of engineering a model rock & mortar wall which could stand up to a wrecking ball (evidence-based reasoning). Prior knowledge was given on the process of engineering design and students observed rock stacking in real walls.  Hand-held cameras were given to each group of students to record the process. Students quickly learned to record, zooming in and out, showing the wall features. Upon returning to classroom, the teacher projected the recorded segments onto her white board.  Then she asked students questions about their thinking process, findings, and construction.  As the process progressed, the teacher was able to use the videos to show the whole class what each team had learned.

In the use of video cameras, the students’ were able to see the process of how, why, or why not the design works.  They could see the process in fast or slowed down time, which provided more evidence and reasoning for students to improve their design.  Students were eager to video themselves and shared the responsibility as a team.  Teachers were also able to share the critical analysis going on from the videos with other classes.

The NETS- S (#1- #4, #6) was being met in several different ways.  By applying existing knowledge of science and engineering, students were able to create models of wall building as a team.  Students worked collaboratively, communicated information, and reported results through digital videos.  Students were able to define problems or issues, analyze the data and make informed decisions about their project. And students learned how to use video cameras of different time speeds to view the testing results.

The NETS- T (#1-#3) was being met in different ways.  The teacher promoted creative thinking by engaging students in solving real-world issues with the help of video camera.  She developed an authentic learning experience by giving students a way to exam their results more than once.  And the teacher was able to model digital age learning through showing videos on white board and sharing those findings with other classroom students.

I like this article in how it shows a way to use a video camera in the classroom.  I like the idea of students being able to slow down, replay, or speed up an experiment so they can truly ‘see’ what is happening more than once.  The article also gave pointers on how to get “camera-ready” in the classroom, costs, and being ready to show videos on the white board.  It also gave a breakdown of the science content standards being met for 4th grade.  I believe as a teacher I could also adapt this to most other content areas and have positive results.  And most kids love to work a camera and have pictures take of themselves!


Lottero-Perdue, Pamela S., et al. “Caught on video! Using handheld digital video cameras to support evidence-based reasoning.” Science and Children Dec. 2011: 56. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Nov. 2012.


About Jan Rue

Hi, I am a graduate student at Western Oregon University working towards a masters in teaching with an endorsement in reading. I am not currently teaching but hope to be able to teach in the elementary level.
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1 Response to Caught on Video! Using handheld digital video cameras

  1. jely06 says:

    I am finding that using handheld video cameras are becoming more common in the classroom as a way to enhance learning. I was interested to find that students used them in this science study to record the process and as you mentioned a good application to real-world problems. I also think that it was used effectively in a whole group discussion to evaluate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the student’s models. It also provided students with a more accurate picture of the process and was able to help facilitate the thinking process. I would agree that there would be some initial time and money invested into setting up an extensive project like this, but once implemented students would be ready to use their video skills in other content areas like you mentioned.

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