Monday, July 25, 2016

Teaching Science Through Investigations

Kids naturally wonder about the world around us. They question why things are the way they are. As teachers we should embrace this excitement!
When teaching by investigation students begin with a "wonder" question. Many times I will prompt the kids with a question to get them thinking. This may be something we think is simple such as "why is the sky blue?" or "how does my Popsicle melt?" Although these concepts are easy to us, they are a natural curiosity to primary aged learners.

After questioning the children you should allow them to talk as a whole group. NEVER answer the question, only listen to their thinking on the subject. Next, let the kids write what they believe is the answer to the inquiry question.

After lots of open ended discussion on the topic it is time to investigate the phenomenon! Students should take part in an investigation following a procedure you have given them, or they can investigate without a set of steps to follow.

The investigation should open the floor to even more discussion amongst the class. This is a great time for the teacher to explicitly teach some content area vocabulary. For example, if you are teaching about the states of matter and the students have completed an investigation that changes a solid and liquid into a gas, the teacher can explicitly teach states of matter vocabulary when explaining the phenomenon.

Students should now elaborate on the investigation. Most of the time at this point I have the kids make a foldable. This is a fun way for them to show their learning and understanding of the new vocabulary.

If you think teaching science through investigations is right for you, be sure to follow my blog for more updates and check out my tpt store. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

3 States of Matter

Each year in the first week of school I begin building an atmosphere of fun and learning with a candy themed science unit. We learn the process of thinking like a scientist as well as getting a tiny introduction to the states of matter.

The next activity we will do is a science investigation that teaches the states of matter using the 5E science model. In this model students are engaged in an investigation that gets them thinking about the world around them.

The students will first be asked some questions to make them think...
After some class discussion and open ended questioning, the kiddos will take part in a science investigation using everyday household items. The students will be given a procedure card and will work through the investigation in their groups. 

Next, students will write about what they believe happened followed by more class discussion. After the kids explain their thoughts, I will go back through the experiment and explicitly use matter vocabulary to explain the science behind the chemical reaction that caused gas to fill the balloon. Still one more time, we will go through it again and create definitions that explain each of the 3 types of matter. The hands on investigation and then explicit use of vocabulary will help children build knowledge and understanding of what they experienced. 

After this the kids will show what they learned by completing a foldable. But wait, here's the fun part... The foldable turns into the lab coat of a kid scientist! 
If you are interested in this fun and engaging way to investigate and master the 3 states of matter, you can check it out on tpt. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Are You Ready for Back to School?

Here is the south it's only July, but that means the shelves are full of school supplies and kids are getting excited to head back to class. Even though we'd rather spend a few more days laying by the pool, I guess it's time to starting thinking about that first day and week. If you are anything like me, you know it is a MUST to keep elementary kids entertained that first week with lots of brain breaks and fun activities. That is why I LOVE to do some fun candy themed experiments!
One of my all time favorite experiments involves Pop Rocks, Coke and a balloon. The challenge is to see if you can blow up a balloon only using the materials provided, and that doesn't include your mouth! Don't forget to use these candy experiment experiences to introduce the scientific method!
Another one of my favorite candy themed activities for the first day or week is the "Can you blow a bubble?" graph. First, pass out a piece of bubble gum to each child. At this point you have already won the hearts of the kids in the room... I mean bubble gum from the teacher on the first day? How cool is that!?!? After you have challenged the kids to blow a bubble, pass out the graph. The students should follow the directions to ask 15 kids in the room if they can blow a bubble. Here's the catch... the kid must PROVE he or she can actually blow a bubble. This is where it gets funny. With my experience most of the younger kids can't actually blow a bubble. At first they feel embarrassed, but when they realize most of the class can't it becomes really funny. 
The bubble blowing graph always leads me into a fun how to tutorial. I try my best to teach the kids how to blow a bubble and then prompt them to write their own how to paragraph. 
Seeing all this candy makes me want to head to the candy jar! These graphs and experiments and many more are included in my tpt Candy Back to School Unit. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Valentine's Day STEM Challenge

Can you make a Cupid's bow that will accurately shoot an arrow at a heart? We can! Using water, Popsicle sticks, floss and a Q-tip we built a bow that could shoot a paper heart accurately. I'm not sure what was more fun... the building or the shooting! 
After completion, we collected data of how many times we accurately shot our heart and created a graph. Lot's of Valentine's Day themed science and math fun!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Heat Energy and Solar Ovens!

I just completed my first "big" science unit. It's a heat energy unit that includes my solar energy STEM challenge. I'm really excited about this one!
Here is a peek:
 Vocabulary posters for 6 important words!
 Reading passages for 5 important topics!

 Science inquiry and investigation experiments!
 Task cards for review!
 Plus my entire Solar Oven STEM Engineering Challenge included in the unit!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Igloo Building STEM Challenge

One of my favorite winter activities ever is building a sugar cube igloo... it's a classic! This week my third graders took on the challenge.
We started with some conversation about igloos and their purpose. We did a little research and found out that the igloo must be made with ice bricks that lean in a little. This was important to our building.
Next, we prepared our materials. Each group was given one box of "ice blocks" (sugar cubes) and a cup of icing. We used Popsicle sticks as our tools.
Finally, the kids got to work! You would be shocked at how difficult this challenge really can be!
Next week we will continue with more winter themed STEM challenges!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter STEM Challenges

Are you looking for ways to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards into your winter themed learning? Or are you interested in a hands on approach to integrated science, technology, engineering and math? Try out a STEM Challenge! 
In this bundle of 5 STEM challenges students will use their science, math, engineering and technology skills to build a variety of snow, winter, ice themed challenges.

Here is an example of one of the five challenges:

 In the tallest snowman challenge, students will be asked to build the tallest snowman only using certain materials. 

 They will go through the engineering process to work with a team to accomplish this feat. After completion of the challenge, teams will measure and collect data on the other team's snowmen. 
This data can be used to create graphs and have class discussions.

If you are interested in trying out a STEM challenge... Check it out HERE!