Sunday, August 18, 2013

Looking for a way to kick off the year in science????

Looking for a way to kick off the year and teach students how to use observational skills along with concepts such as variables and inquiry projects? 

Several years ago, my colleague and I created a unit that was based on the great Steve Spangler's You Tube videos involving diet coke and mentos. 

I mean...what great fun! 
My son and I first tried it several years ago in the back yard, then we did it for a birthday party for 7 year olds, and then I decided...I gotta do this in the classroom.

So, we decided to tie it into a unit on introducing scientific investigations. Many teachers like to do this at the beginning of the year as a way to introduce science vocabulary words and observation techniques. 

My students loved it!  Check out my blogs about the experience from last year by looking at the side posting labels.  You can see what it looked like in action. It is such a big hit it is now my student's #1 favorite activity (three years in a row!) as well as my #1 seller on TPT.
      The package is more than a series of worksheets, but instead is a full blown lesson plan that teaches how to introduce variables and constants in a fun way.  It includes an inquiry approach where students get to choose which types of sodas to test!

Click here to see more about this great investigation!   Enjoy!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Early Childhood Science

Ten years ago, you couldn't walk into a K-1 classroom without seeing a nature center. There would undoubtedly be magnifying glasses, objects to observe and many other science centered activities.  Now when you walk into a classroom, what do you see? Reading and Math. Now, I am not saying that there shouldn't be reading and math in an early childhood classroom, I just want you to consider the reasoning behind early childhood science.
Recently, I have reread one of my favorite books.  Doing what Scientists do by Ellen Doris.   The book has gotten a facelift and upgrade since the original version, but the basic premises are the same.

How do children learn?

·       By doing

·       Constructing knowledge through collaboration

·       Behavior and thinking take time

·       As individuals

·       Revise their understanding of the world through experiences

·       Feelings are part of learning
All of these ideas are true, and are especially true in science.  As a constructivist teacher, I never tire of hearing these thoughts.  And to make science meaningful for every child, science lessons should follow these guiding beliefs:
        Science is a process of inquiry and investigation

·       Familiar everyday phenomena provide a rich focus for science study

·       Children learn through their own activity

·       Teachers can also be active investigators

·       Applying knowledge of child development contributes to science teaching

·       A balance between structure and freedom in the classroom is important

·       Each class member has an important contribution to make

·       Collaboration is important
 Do you agree? I agree that these beliefs are essential from pre K to grade 12...but what do I know?