Your students will learn the basic foundations of science with engaging and exciting activities! They will discover that science involves hands-on and interactive inquiry. Your kiddos will learn about making observations and asking questions by doing it for themselves. They will also learn about the process scientists go through to solve problems. By taking a peek into the interesting world of science, they will learn what different types of scientists do.
This activity will get the children excited about science! Prior to the hands-on activities, the class will complete part of a K-W-H-L chart. Several different stations will be set up in the room. The children will have an opportunity to go to each station and investigate the items at each. During this, the children will be DISCOVERING and experiencing science by doing lots of hands-on kid-friendly activities that inspires them to want to learn more about science! When they have gone to all of the stations, a discussion will take place about what they did as scientists and what they have learned. The goal of this activity is to have the children explore items related to science to give them some exposure and a background for discussion about science. Another goal is to get them excited about the topic of science and a peek into topics we will be learning about this year! You won't believe how much your students ideas about science will change in such a short amount of time! Your kiddos will be begging for more!
Next Generation Science Standards Link:
According to the NGSS, the children need to learn by doing. They should be investigating our world through their own eyes and asking questions about why things happen and work to construct meaning behind it. As an essential part of science is developing an understanding of science--the wondering, investigating, questioning, data collecting and analyzing. Science investigations begin with a question. So teaching the children to question why things are the way they are is an essential part of the understanding. Scientists use different ways to study the world. They look for patterns and order when making observations about the world. Scientists use drawings, sketches and models as a way to communicate ideas. They look for cause and effect relationships to explain natural events. This lesson provides an overview of these practices.
This first lesson might at first sound like there is a lot of set-up involved. But the idea is for the children to get just a taste of what's to come this year. It's a matter of just setting up things you probably already have or can easily borrow.
You will have different stations set up for the children to explore the ideas listed above. I put my children into groups of 3, so I need 7 different stations. I am giving you suggestions of 8 stations that you could possibly set up in your room for this exploration. Don't make it too complicated for yourself, just use supplies that you already have since the main idea is exposure and free exploration. You do not have to use these same stations, but all of these suggestions relate to one of the NGSS standards whether it be the subject or the inquiry.
I put each set of items in a large bin and then labeled the bins. Click on the name of each station below for labels for each of the stations. I also numbered each label so the children could easily tell where they went next. Here is the material list for each:
magnets of all different shapes, sizes and strengths
items made of steel, plastic, wood. aluminum
items that will sink
items that will float
sink (or an aquarium or any large container)
towels or paper towels
any items to observe (I use a butterfly and flowers)
variety of tops and a smooth surface for spinning
building materials of some kind--Legos, waffle blocks, popsicle sticks
rocks, sand and pebbles of varying sizes
several measurement devices such as rulers
balance scales and weights
variety of items to measure/weigh
A large jar--at least mayo size or mason jar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil per group
measuring cup or something similar that is easy to pour out of
paper towels (to put fork on after stirring and for any spills)
Fireworks in a jar student direction card
Note: The station "Fireworks in a Jar" will need a helper. The jar will need to be dumped out each time and refilled 3/4 way with warm water.
*You will also need a timer.
Then I question the children, "What do you think science is?"
I solicit their answers and write them in the "K" part of a class chart. After we have completed the "K" section, we move on to the "W" section.
What would you like to learn more about the topic of science this year? What type of questions do you have?
I fill in their answers in the "W" section of the K-W-H-L chart.
Then I ask the children about how we might find out about what science is. This part is of vital importance since we want the kids to be thinking about how they can go about finding the answers to their own questions, which is a basic life skill needed for the NGSS and the common core. Knowing HOW to get to information highlights an essential skill that we need to teach our students.
We are going to investigate today and see if we can add to our knowledge of what science is by the end of the day.
To get the students interested, we first watch a simple 3 minute video that goes over the main parts of science. The video has one word to a few words on each screen with beautiful photographs. It is a great introduction. I tell them that I want them to think about what science is as they are watching this video.
In advance, I set up 7 stations, one station per 3 students as listed in the teacher notes. I simply number each station by putting out a piece of paper with a number from 1-7 on it and the labels as stated above. I make sure the tables go in order clockwise for better flow. Yes, this activity does require a little bit of set up, but I think it will be worth it in the end. The idea is to get them exposed to science and explore a bit so they have a background of knowledge to help guide them in our next discussions. Each station should be simple enough to set up and manage on your own, but if you have any parent helpers, it would make management easier.
I begin by saying, "Today we are going to be exploring lots of interesting things in science. I have set up 7 different stations that each of you will get to explore. I am going to divide you into groups of three by pulling out names from my frog pond."
For my frog pond, I have the names of each of the students written on a frog (see Explanation of the Frog Pond video--The video looks upside-down but just click on it and it will turn). I keep them in a little basket and then when I need volunteers, or to put kids into groups, I simply pull out a name. The kids love the idea of the frog pond because when it keeps everything fair in the classroom.
Remember that whenever we work in groups, we are working with friends. It is always a great opportunity to work with someone else. Other members of your team might have ideas you may not have. They might be able to help you with directions or to answer a question.
I love working in a team because it makes everything more fun. So remember if I call out your name out to work with someone else you should be appreciative and make them feel respected."
I try to give a version of this little pep talk when I have the children work together in groups. It breaks my heart when I see another child hurt another child's feelings. I will not tolerate it when a child makes someone else feel unappreciated or feeling inadequate before the work even begins.
So I go on ahead and randomly pull out the first 3 names to work together as a group and announce their names. I tell them they are group 1. Then I have the 3 of the children collect together as a group at a designated table. Then I continue to call out group 2. I continue until all of the names have been called and everyone had a group number. I do have to tell you, I kind of "cheat" if necessary. If I have 2 students who do not work together well, I just simply don't call the name out and pick another. Then I use that name for the next group and the children have never picked up on it.
After all of the teams have been formed, I tell the children,
You are going to get a chance to explore at each of the tables for 5 minutes. Your main job is to explore and really think about what science is. When we are done, we are going to have another discussion about what science really is. When the timer goes off, wait for my directions before you move anywhere.
I have group 1 start at the table that is numbered 1; group 2 start at table 2 and so forth. I have them explore the items at each table with minimal directions, except for the "Fireworks in a Jar." Although the directions for that station are pretty minimal also. When the timer goes off, I have the children rotate to the next consecutive number, so group 1 goes to table 2, etc.
When the groups have had a chance at each station, I gather them back to the corner to discuss the day's activities. I pull up the KWL What is Science? Chart that we started earlier so that we can complete the "L" section of the chart. I ask the children again what they think science is. If they have trouble coming up with ideas, I ask them what they did at each of the stations. I am looking for the action words in their statements. For example, if they say they observed a butterfly, I write down "observing." I keep it in the present tense so it completes the statement "Science is about...." Here's a list of what my students came up with:
Then we also use the words to make an anchor chart about what they have learned that science is about.
Since the main point of this lesson was exploration, the only evaluation was during the explanation stage. I listened to see if they were getting the main points of this lesson from the evidence in their answers to form ideas in the "What We Learned" section. Since they had adequate answers, I feel they got this concept and we are ready to move on to the next lesson, It's All in the Details.