Bringing Science Lessons Online with Google Drawings

Caylie Gaccione
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on July 27 2022

Google Drawings is an excellent platform for creating interactive lessons. While working with my elementary students, I always found that they were most excited about science lessons because they could get involved with experiments, exploration, and hands-on creations. When it came time for them to record their ideas or show evidence of their learning, I found that the excitement level dipped. With Google Drawings, my students were able to really show their thinking by jotting down ideas, sketching science concepts, and expressing themselves creatively. By using Google Drawings to teach science concepts, engagement is high and students feel empowered to show what they know in a visually appealing way. Let’s explore what Google Drawings is all about and how to use this amazing tool to bring science lessons online.

What is Google Drawings?

Google Drawings is a free, web-based Google application. It is considered a “diagramming software”  that is a great option for turning concepts and ideas into diagrams and flowcharts. Drawings is a creative space for students to share their thinking and demonstrate an overall understanding of a concept through active learning. It’s also an excellent tool for adding shapes, lines, connectors, colors, and even images to diagrams.

Why use Google Drawings?

There are plenty of reasons to use Drawings in the classroom.  I’m sure you can think of a few of your own, but here’s my list of top reasons to use Drawings:

  • Add visual appeal, excitement, color, and dynamic components to enhance pre-made static content – think presentations or worksheets that you already have that can be made even better!
  • Add multiple users, which is a wonderful option for collaboration and simultaneous work for your students.
  • Can serve as an interactive whiteboard for teachers/students.
  • Like other Google tools, you can always go back and make edits, which makes it easy to jot down ideas and make adjustments as needed.
  • Drawings can be used to teach or learn content across grades/subject areas.

Adding in science concepts

Now that we know a little more about all that Google Drawings can do, we are ready to add some subject matter into the mix. Science is one of my favorite subjects to teach with Google Drawings because there are so many opportunities to give that “hands-on” feel in a digital space. When teaching science concepts, students will be doing a lot of critical thinking, tinkering, creating, and exploring. Even if you are doing an in-class science experiment, there are still opportunities for students to jot down ideas, explore new concepts, practice skills, and so much more by using Google Drawings.  

Here are some ways to incorporate science lessons into Google Drawings:

  • Tap into problem solving/critical thinking skills: Science lessons give students an opportunity  to ask questions, explore, and find answers. Science also gives students the time and space to work through different scenarios. Have students use critical thinking skills with Google Drawings by forming a hypothesis or showing their work/thoughts on a blank canvas. To make it simple, you can use a template for a science journal like this one:

  • Active participation: Students will all be able to add ideas to their Google Drawing in a way that works best for them. Completing science activities on Drawings adds a level of excitement and alleviates boredom. Something as simple as learning about the steps of the scientific method can be made more exciting by giving students the chance to work together and add in their own drawings or images.

  • Record observations: Use writing, drawings, photographs, and more to have students keep track of what they see, hear, question or discover. Build in opportunities for students to get creative while still learning. Think: labeling activities, drag and drop, graphic organizers, and more!

Google Drawings fast tips

Looking to get started right away? Here is what you will need to know to get building:

  1. Make a plan for the content that will be on each Google Drawing page. What will students be doing on each page? Remember that you have the freedom to use the space as a blank canvas or add in content.
  2. Start adding shapes, lines, diagrams, images, and text to build your content. Remember that if you have some pre-made static content (think worksheets), you can save them as images and then upload them from your computer into a Google Drawing page for students to fill in and add onto.
  3. Determine if you will be having students work independently or sharing for collaboration purposes. The blue share button in the upper right hand corner allows the student to share the Drawing with the teacher or with other students.

  1. Like other Google applications, you can insert comments. Click on an element and right click to insert a comment. This allows students to not only model their science ideas, but to explain and label different elements of their drawing. As the teacher, you are able to reply to the comments to help give students feedback and ask them questions to deepen their understanding of the concepts.

  1. Provide your students with a “copy” of the drawing. If you are taking the route of giving each student their own drawing to complete, at the end of the URL, change the word “edit” to “copy.” When you share it with students, it will make a copy for them to complete on their own. This creates a template of your original Google Drawing!

  →  

  1. Insert your Google Drawing into Google Docs (and other Google applications). If you are creating a webquest, hyperdoc, choice board, or lesson plan, you can add in your Google Drawing templates or students’ completed work to create a more interactive Doc. Once you complete this step, there will be a link to the Google Drawing so that students can easily access it by clicking on the image.

I encourage you to explore all that Google Drawings has to offer and add a digital component to your science lessons! Be sure to check out our accompanying OTIS course, Using Google Drawings to Teach Elementary Science Concepts, as well as many other courses in the OTIS Course Library to see this tool in action! 


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.


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