Use Your Senses!

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SWBAT work as a scientist using the science process skills to investigate.

Big Idea

Can you imagine your students using the science process skills scientists use to investigate?


10 minutes

I begin the lesson by displaying a poster with “I Wonder” to assess students’ prior knowledge. On a Post-it note, the students write a statement about what they wonder about scientists.  They start their sentence with I wonder.  Students post their statement on the “I Wonder” poster.  Students share with the class. These sentences help drive my instruction because I know their misconceptions or their conceptual understandings.

I show students a PowerPoint on science inquiry skills to discuss the following terms: observe, compare, classify, measure, record data, put things in order, infer, investigate, predict, draw conclusions, and communicate. These are the science process skills that primary students use. Then I review the terms by asking the students to discuss each one in their own words as a review.


20 minutes

Science and Engineering Practice in the NGSS requires students to ask questions to check for understanding and analyze and interpret data. This activity allows students to work like a scientist as they use science process skills and focus on the five senses. When I work with students, it is important that I permit them to use their senses as they engage in science experiments.

At their desk, I inform the students they will use their five senses for this experiment. I ask: What are the five senses: touching, smelling, hearing, seeing, and tasting. When do you use these senses? I inform students that they will use these senses throughout this experience. 

Students are placed in groups of 3-4 students.  I assign a leader, recorder, measurer, and reporter. In my classroom, I assign the leader which is one of my advanced students. I make sure that they have strong leadership skills. I allow the other students in the group to select their roles after the following discussion. I tell the students to think about the role that they will do best. I say: “The recorder writes the group’s findings. The reporter shares the findings to the entire class. The measurer measures the selected items.”  Each student wears a label to identify their role. To attach the labels, I suggest using clothes pins. Also, I discuss the group rules before we begin: respect your peers; everyone should have a voice; stay on task; and complete your experiment in a timely manner.  

I give each group a bag with the following items: pretzels, gummi bears,  sour gummi worms, a ruler, and a lab sheet.

The students make 2 predictions about what they think is in the bag based off of the students possibly shaking the bag, rubbing the bag, and even smelling the bag. Next, the students observe the items and write two questions about the items. Then, the students measure the length of the items (Note: gummi bear from ear to foot or head to toe). The students will then put the items in order from shortest to longest.

While the students are working, be sure to monitor measuring to clear any misconceptions and discuss why you are measuring in centimeters. I inform the groups that scientists use the metric system.  Measuring focuses on Mathematics Practice MP.5, use appropriate tools strategically. Students record the data they gathered as they measure.

After discussing their discoveries, provide more of the items from the bag for the students to taste. The students tell which item is salty, sweet, or sour.  

As students work in their groups, walk around to ask questions as needed such as: Why are you measuring?  How is the chart helpful?, Which is the shortest?, Which is the longest?, and How can observing things be helpful? Also point out the vocabulary words from the PowerPoint Presentation that are on the lab sheet as the students are working to reinforce the science process skills.


Use your senses-student work


10 minutes

I signal the students to come back to their desk or carpet area.  We discuss their findings as a class, by asking about the science process skills that were used during the activity. I remind students that they will continue to use these science process skills throughout this school year. 

To check for understanding, I pass out vocabulary cards to random students at their desk or carpet.  I read the definition and the student with the science process skill stands up.