Is It Science?

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SWBAT describe what they think science is

Big Idea

Many students think of chemistry as science, but science is so much more and students need to broaden their understanding of science before engaging in science activities.

I Can

3 minutes

I begin the lesson today by posting an I Can statement at the front of the room. It reads: "I can talk about many different kinds of science." I show the statement to students and and say "today we will think about if there is more than 1 kind of science. I want you to be thinking about if you can tell about more than one kind of science as we work today. Thumbs up if you think you can already do this. Thumbs up if you think you might get some new ideas today."

I begin with an I Can statement to give students a goal for today's lesson. I want students to know what they are trying to accomplish with each lesson. 

Identifying What Science Is

45 minutes

It is the beginning of the year and usually I would begin with a discussion, but to begin our year in science, I have decided to begin with 3 activities. I want to let students explore first and then discuss. I want to have students engage in three different activities and for each one rate it as science or not science. The activities are designed to reflect a basic idea from the second grade Next Generation Science Standards - things are made up of small pieces (2PS1-3), materials change (2PS 1-4) and classifying objects (2 PS 1-1). My hypothesis is that students will not see most of these things as science at this point, which suggests to me that we need to broaden their definition of what science really is.

I begin the science lesson by inviting students to come to their assigned circle seats at the rug. I say to students, "today we are going to do some activities in small groups, I would like you each to push in your chair when I call your table, walk quickly and quietly to the rug and sit in your assigned seats and wait quietly for all your friends to take their seats on the rug. Do you think you can move quickly and quietly to the rug?" After students agree that they can move quietly to the rug, I call one table at a time to come to the rug. I remark how well students did walking, or pushing in chairs, or sitting quietly. Once all tables have been dismissed to the rug I ask students to think quietly for a moment as I ask the question, "Do you know what science is?" I ask for a thumbs up if they think they know what science is. I tell students,  "I want you to keep your ideas to themselves for a little while, but we will share our ideas about what science is after we do some activities today".

Students need numerous experiences with each standard during the year. Today I use 3 of the standards to get students thinking about science. They are looking at patterns when they classify objects, build with snap blocks and mix colors. They have a chance to experience cause and effect with the paint mixing. They are also working with stability and change as they see how rapidly the ice melts. 

I say, "we will be working in small groups today. Can you think of some things you will need to remember about working in a small group?" I write down their ideas about working in a group as this is one of our first group activities of the year. I take time to stress ideas that remind students to share materials, take turns, listen to each other, make sure everyone in the group has a part in the activity and to treat each other kindly.

I explain,  "I will divide the class into 4 groups. Each group will go to one of the tables and complete the activity at that table. I will ring a bell when it is clean up time and you will need to put the materials back neatly and to mark in your journal page if the activity was science or not, and how you decided." I model this by dropping a ball on the floor and saying, "My activity was dropping a ball. It was science because I saw how high it bounced."

I show students that at the first table there are ice cubes in a cooler. I say," you will take out 1 ice cube and set it on a plastic plate and watch what happens." You may also hold the ice cube, or a second cube in your hand and watch what happens. In your journal is it science notebook.pdf you may draw or write about what happened." This activity supports 2PS1 - 4 - which deals with the changing of matter.

I show students that at the second table there are dishes of red, blue and yellow paint. I say, " you may take 2 colors at a time and mix them on your paper. You can also try 3 colors if you have time. At the end of this center you  will put your painted paper on your desk to dry and save. You will write in your journal about whether this is science or not." This activity supports 2 PS 1-4 - changes of matter.

I show students that at the third table there are snap blocks built into cubes. I say, "here you are to take the cubes apart and build something new, and then try to put the blocks back together to make another cube. You may use the IPAD camera to take a snapshot of what you build. Don't forget to write in your journal if this activity was science or not." A discussion about whether or not the activity is scienceThis activity supports 2PS1 -3 objects are made up of smaller pieces and can be taken apart and combined in new ways. 

I show students that at the fourth table there are attribute blocks like they have seen in math. I say, "as a group you are going to sort the blocks into piles in any way that the group chooses. Once the objects are sorted, call me over and I will take a photo of the sorted objects. Again, don't forget to record this in your journals." This activity supports 2PS1-1 classifying objects. 

I ask if there are any questions about what to do at each center? I show students that I have posted directions at each center. I divide students into their groups and send 1 group to each table. I move about the room making sure that people know what to do at each center. After students are settled at a center, I rotate around the room asking students to tell me what they are doing, what they are noticing and asking if they think they are doing science and why or why not. 

After 8 - 10 minutes I ring the bell and ask students to take their pictures, put the materials back they way they found them, and to mark their sheet for the activity they did and to write or draw why they think it was or was not science. I tell them I will give them 4 minutes before it is time to switch.

After 4 minutes I ring the bell again, and show students which center they will be moving to next. I repeat my movements between the centers making sure students know what to do, and then asking questions of the students. The process repeats until the students have visited all of the centers. 

What Do We Know About Science?

10 minutes

I invite students to return to their places on the rug and to leave all papers at their desks for right now. I remind students to come quietly to the rug and to wait for their friends to arrive.

When everyone is settled, I ring the bell for quiet and show students a large piece of paper on the easel. I have written Things We Think We Know about science across the top. I ask students to raise their hands and I will call on them one at a time for them to tell me something they think they know about science. I tell students that we are not going to decide today if these things are right or wrong, but instead we are brainstorming all of our ideas about what we think we know about science. I have chosen not to write a final list because we will have lots of ideas from students, and as yet we do not know enough to say yes this is or no this isn't science. I also want all children to contribute today. If other students start saying no to ideas, students will not feel safe in their new classroom. We are just beginning the year and I want to create a culture of safety in the classroom. Brainstorming allows students to contribute without fear of being wrong or ridiculed. Making a final list would require us to determine if the contributions were right or wrong and would have a profound influence on a child's feeling of safety in the classroom.

I scribe student's ideas on the easel until everyone has shared at least 2 ideas. I tell students that they can always add more later, but we are going to stop there and go to the next page.

On the next page the heading is Things We Want to Know More About in Science. Again I remind students that we are brainstorming not deciding today. I scribe their ideas until everyone has had a chance to share 2 ideas. 

I end this part of the lesson by saying that students know a lot about science and have lots of interests that I hope we can explore this year. 

I ask students to tiptoe like mice back to their desks. I tell them they may squeak quietly to their friends in a whisper squeak on the way to their seats, but once they have sat down they should be waiting quietly for the next direction. (Allowing for movement helps students to remain attentive, especially at the early part of the year.)

So Was It Science?

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson I ask students to look at the papers they used during centers. They should have their drawings, paintings and votes as to whether the activities were science or not. Now I would like them to work within their groups to try to come to an agreement (concencus is not a word I would use with my second graders at this point in the year, but I am hoping that is what they will do) about whether each activity was science or not. They should think about what they know, and try to explain why they said yes or no to the rest of their tables. 

I say to students, "I want you to work with your tables now to figure out if what we did today was science or not. I want each person to share what they thought about each activity. If you don't all agree with someone, ask them why they thought that it was or wasn't science. You do not all have to agree at the end but I do want you to work together and listen to each other."

I ask what things we need to remember when working together. (to listen to one another, to take turns, to be kind). I tell them these things are very important when we are trying to agree on something together. "The person with the first name whose first letter is closest to the beginning of the alphabet to be our recorder today."

I give students about 10 minutes for their discussions. I circulate around to listen to the discussions, to ask questions as needed, such as why did you think that was not science, or what about taking something apart might have to do with science, etc.

At the end of 10 minutes I ring the bell for quiet. I ask each group to report out about each activity. I call on one group at a time and ask them to tell us about the first activity, then the second, the third, the fourth. I record yes or no on the board next to the name of each activity. 

After we have recorded all their answers, we look for agreement and patterns. "What do you notice about our answers to each activity? Why do you think that might be?"

I tell students that this year we will do lots of different types of things in science. I refer back to the chart of what we think we know and highlight how different the activities are. I also look at what they want to know and highlight how there are so many different things that are involved in science. I say, "You did a good job today working together and thinking about science. Your ideas about why things might or might not be science are valid and important. All of the activities had some parts of them that had to do with science, but you may also have thought of parts that were more like art or math because most activities are a mix of more than 1 subject."

I ask students,  "do you think you have learned today that science is more than you thought it was? Thumbs up for yes, sideways for sort of and down for no! Are you excited to now learn all different kinds of science? Show me a thumbs vote again." I refer back to the I Can statement that I posted at the beginning of the lesson. I ask students for a thumbs up if they think they can talk about different types of science now. 

As a final informal assessment, I ask students to write in their journal 3 things that they know are science. I refer to these after class to give myself a feeling for what students grasped from the lesson.