What Kinds of Jobs Do Scientists Do?

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SWBAT state a science related career, tell a fact about it and tell why they think it is interesting.

Big Idea

Does a scientist only work in a lab? Let's find out!

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

Students will watch a google slide presentation that highlights 17 different science careers.  Children will discuss and then write which fields of science they found the most interesting and why.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection

The NGSS are based on basic understandings of the nature of science. The children need to know that science is a human endeavor and that people have practiced science for a long time.  Scientists study the natural and material world.  Moreover, they should know that men and women of diverse backgrounds are scientists and engineers. This lesson is a great way to provide them with the opportunity to see all of the many things they can do in science as an adult.  This lesson also helps unify all of the concepts the children have learned about the inquiry process.  It helps them to understand the role science plays in our daily lives.



5 minutes

I begin the lesson by asking the students some questions.

 What do you think scientists do?  What kind of jobs involve science?

 I find that starting with a question that reflects the big science idea engages the learners.  I see them thinking and wondering about what science really is and what scientists do. I elicit their answers, most are typical answers that I would expect at this point in the lesson.  One student says that they look in microscopes.  This is a common misconception--that a scientist wears a lab coat and looks through microscopes all day.  Yes, this can be part of science, but it also involves so much more!  To help address this misconception, I have them view a presentation involving scientific careers that are very diverse.

That's right.  Some scientists look through microscopes, but there are many other things that scientists do.  Today we are going to learn about some activities that people do whom are scientists.


15 minutes

At this point I start a Google slide presentation titled "What Kinds of Jobs Do Scientists Do?" (For those of you that prefer a PDF format, click What Kinds of Jobs Do Scientists Do?). I really want the big idea that scientists do so many diverse jobs to be a powerful message, so I chose to open with a large screen slide presentation.  It's a great way to start things with a bang! The slide presentation begins with a few questions to try to grab the children's attention.  Then it highlights 17 different scientific careers.  On each slide is a short definition for each type of scientist mentioned. Altogether there are 31 slides for the class to view.  To view the presentation, make sure you click the "present" tab in the upper-right hand corner.  Then click on "present from the beginning."

For the presentation, I read the sidebar information on each slide aloud to the students.  To add to it, if I know of an adult or one of their parents that is in the particular science career on the slide, I make sure to mention it.  In my case, my son's girlfriend is majoring in criminology, so I made sure to mention her studies.  My other son is majoring in physics, so I also add that to the discussion.  I feel anytime you add your own experiences to the mix, the children really get hooked.

The slide titled "Fields of Science" (the second to the last slide) is for your reference.  I keep it up for the discussion and also for when the children write.




10 minutes

After viewing the slide show we gather in the corner to discuss their thoughts and learning.  I still have the Google Slide presentation paused on the slide titled "Fields of Science".  We briefly discuss each one by asking if the children remember what that particular science field was and what scientist in that field do.  I use the Fields of Science Cards to aid in the discussion.

Then I ask the children what field(s) of science they found interesting and why.  The children are eager to discuss their opinions!  It sounds like everyone wants to be a future scientist!


15 minutes

While still in the corner, I ask the children to turn and talk to a partner about what field of science they find to be the most interesting and why.  Even though we have already discussed as a class, there are always a few children that have not participated in the discussion.  This makes sure that even a shy or reserved student is included in the conversation.  I feel that children are natural talkers, but often they don't realize that writing is just writing down your thoughts.  So if I can get them to voice their ideas to someone else, then all they have to do is write down the idea they just talked about. It makes me chuckle when I tell the children that helpful tidbit and you can see a lightbulb go on.


10 minutes

Then I have the children return to their seats.  I tell them, "We are now going to write down your ideas that you just discussed with your partner on paper."  I pass out the Science Jobs paper for the children to write down their ideas.  

Since this is the beginning of the year, my expectations for their writing is lower than what it would be later in the year.  I expect them to complete the sentence, "I think being a _______ would be very interesting."  Then I have them write 2-3 sentences explaining at least one fact about what that scientist does and why they think it is interesting.  This leaves the proverbial door open for more writing.  I do NOT have them write "I think being a ______ would be interesting because".... since I have found that after the kids complete that sentence then their writing has no where to go.  Their idea is complete and therefore they are done.  

I tell the children that I expect them to try to spell the name of the scientist correctly since it is up on the Smart-board.  I remind them to begin each sentence with a capital letter and end each with proper punctuation.  Since they probably are writing telling sentences, they will end with a period. When their writing is completed, they need to draw and color a picture illustrating their idea (see Student Sample Science Jobs 1 and Student Sample Science Jobs 2).  

When their writing is complete, we share their ideas (see video clip I think being a scientist would be interesting video clip A, B and C.  To assess, I collect their papers and check to see that each child has completed the first sentence, explained one fact and then told why they think this job would be interesting.  They also must have a completed picture that depicts the chosen job.  If they have not done this, I work with them until it is completed.


5 minutes

For review of the concept, I ask the children some questions to see if they understood the big idea of the day.  I want them to understand that scientists do so many things that help us with our daily lives.  Yes, they work in a lab...but they also do a multitude of other things.  Understanding these ideas leads to natural inquisitiveness and also a newfound knowledge of the major workings of science and appreciation towards the fields.  

So I ask, "What are some of the different fields of science?  What are some activities that scientists do?  Are there more than what you expected?  Does anyone remember how many different fields of science that are available?"

After our review, I tell the children that tomorrow we will be reading about a girl who tries to be a scientist and do her own experiments.