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Designed with middle school students in mind, this activity simplifies NGSS MS-PS4-3 to bring it down to essential understandings. After this lesson, students will be able to a) differentiate between the basics of analog and digital signals and b) compare the advantages and disadvantages (including reliability) of each.
First, students read the 2 page reading (1 page front/back). The reading is clear, straightforward and written for a middle school audience. It covers the basics of analog and digital signals, devices that use each, and advantages and disadvantages of each.. After the reading, students complete a 2 page worksheet (1 page front/back) of text-dependent and analysis questions. (Answer key provided.)
Second, students are given data points for an analog wave and data points for a digital wave, then graph each. (Pre-labeled graphs provided.) The graphing is very simple, designed not to be a challenging graphing activity but rather to highlight how the two signals graphs are different. A few analysis questions follow the graphs to bring students' attention to the major characteristics of each wave type (Answer key provided.)
Note to Our Colleagues: This is a tried-and-true resource that has helped us immensely as we attempt to teach a very wide range of middle school students this somewhat challenging NGSS standard. We think you'll find it straightforward, easy to implement, and very effective,.
Related Assessment: Analog & Digital Signals Quiz
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