STEM Lab: Building Models - Evaluating and Communicating
Lesson 10 of 10
Objective: SWBAT evaluate how well their termite mounds or mud dauber nests hold up over night, try an alternative design, and communicate their results.
This is the second part to this lesson that we do in our Stem Lab. We spend one week each month working intensely on a STEM project - this time, we are building termite mounds or mud dauber nests using Earth materials. This supports Essential Standard 1.E.2.1, "Summarize the physical properties of Earth materials, including rocks, minerals, soils and water that make them useful in different ways." Listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question.
*1 copy of rubric per pair
*Finished models from first lesson
*1 Recording device (flip cam, iPhone, iPad, etc).
Day 3 -Warm Up
Now that we have built our mounds or nests, it is time to evaluate our work. In the first part of this lesson, I explain the rubric to my students. Now, I revisit this with them and tell them it is time for them to evaluate their own work. I give each pair a copy of the rubric to write on.
We also pass out the projects. Some of them will probably crumble or fall, so I ask students to be very careful as I put them on their tables. I say,
"Before you actually evaluate your work, look at your mound or nest with your partner and see if any changes have happened since yesterday, but please don't touch it!"
Day 3 -Evaluate
I show the rubric again on the Smartboard and read each question, then ask my students to decide their score with their partner and mark their own rubric. As a class, we are still learning how to use rubrics so I chose to guide them through this process to make sure they understand how to use it.
Then I say,
"How many of you checked all 'yes' on your rubric? How many had some 'no' checks? Is that okay? Do you think scientists get everything right, every time? Of course not! So, today we are going to change our design cycle and you are going to have another chance to try building a mound or a nest. I have more supplies. So, with your partner, go to the next page in your science journals and make a new plan for a different mound or nest. Think about things that you can change so that the next one will be stronger. I will call you up to get those supplies in a few minutes".
Day 3 - Re-Build
As the partners create a new plan, I listen to make sure students understand that they need to create something better than before. If any pairs get stuck, I step in and assist. I also make sure they are considering what went wrong, if anything, with their first attempt as they plan their second attempt. Then, after about 5 minutes, I start calling groups up to get new materials and begin their second try at building.
After about 20 minutes I say,
"Finish up your work, put your second mound or nest into your box for today, and we will see how well you did tomorrow!"
Creating a new plan based on their observations and experiences in order to compare their first attempt to their second attempt, as well as making predictions based on their previous experience, supports Science and Engineering Practice 3. Building their own models based on their previous knowledge in order to represent an object in the natural world supports Science and Engineering Practice 2. As students record information such as their observations, thoughts and ideas, including their new plan, they are engaging in Science and Engineering Practice 4, 'Analyzing and Collecting Data".
Day 4 - Communicate
On the fourth day, students will be really excited to see if they built a better model of the mound or nest, so we spend a few minutes just looking and comparing to what they built the first time. Then I say,
"Today, we are finishing the design cycle with this project by communicating about our work. We will do this in two different ways. The first way is to make a video talking about how you planned and built your two nests or mounds. The second way will be to draw a detailed diagram of your finished work and write an explanation of what you made, how you made it, and how it is like a real termite mound or mud dauber's nest. I have a paper to help you with that".
As the students work on the written communication, I record pairs talking about their work. Sometimes, students know just what to say to make an interesting video - and sometimes, they don't. I ask these questions to get interesting responses:
-What did you build?
-How did you build your first nest or mound?
-What did you change when you built the second one?
-Which turned out better? Why?
These questions lead to students comparing their two projects and evaluating them, which supports Science and Engineering Practice 2, developing and using models, and also Practice 8, evaluating and communicating information. The videos will be uploaded to my classroom website and shared with parents. The written communication will be displayed in our classroom.