Practice Using Science Tools

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SWBAT demonstrate mastery of using science tools correctly.

Big Idea

Students rotate through six stations, in cooperative groups, to practice using science tools.

Rationale and Preparation

The Why Behind Teaching This:

By making sure all students are comfortable with the tools and using them correctly, I am eliminating the need to review these tools before every lesson they are used in. Being able to use science tools appropriately is linked to several standards throughout the year.  In standards 5-PS1-2 and 5-PS1-3, students must measure and observe properties to provide evidence in changes that have occured and to identify materials which will require the use of a variety of these tools.  Throughout all of the Enigineering Design standards, 3-5-ETS1, these tools will be used, as well as in any experiments and investigations done throughout the year. 

Lesson Goal:

The goal of today’s lesson is to demonstrate mastery of using the science tools. 

Success Criteria:

Students will demonstrate mastery of using science tools by recording accurate measurements from the stations on the exit tickets.   Students will also be assessed through observations using a participation checklist.


Warm Up:

  • Prepare a graduated cylinder with 50 mL of colored water in it
  • Have a large marble or small rock 

Guided Practice:


Wrap Up:  

  • Prepare an exit chart with 4 sections or that is 4 different pieces of paper (Picture of exit chart set up). 
  • Have five pieces of different colored sticky notes ready 

Warm Up

5 minutes

Building Interests:

I begin today's lesson holding 50 mL of colored water in a graduated cylinder (coloring it makes it easier for the students to see).  I walk around the room and ask students to observe the water.  I suddenly drop a marble in, “Plop”. I ask the students to tell me what they saw happen.  This opens our discussion and discovery that graduated cylinders can be used to find the volume of solids as well as liquids. 

Finding the Volume of Solids with a Graduated Cylinder:

In the previous lesson, students had practiced finding the volume of liquids using a graduated cylinder.  How to find the volume of a solid using a graduated cylinder was never discussed. They realize that when I drop in the marble, the water level increases.  I tell them the beginning water level was 50mL and have a student read the current level, with the marble in it.  (I call on a student that I noticed was struggling using the graduated cylinder the day before so I can walk them through anything they are struggling with).  I have students discuss with their groups for about 2 minutes, what they believe the volume of the marble is and write it on a white board.  Students hold their boards up and we discuss how groups came up with the various answers.  

After going through all answer choices, I tell them that the group that had 6 mL was correct.  I explain that the water has a volume of 50mL, when the marble is added, the marble and the water have a volume of 56mL together.  I have them explain to me how I came up with the 6mL. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Setting Up The Stations Ahead of Time:  

I instruct students to take out their science notebooks and I turn on the overhead.  I already have stations set up around the room with signs up to help direct students (Tools for Measuring Force, Tools for Measuring Length, Tools for Measuring Temperature, Tools for Measuring volume, Tools for Measuring weight, Tools for Observing).  Stations are set up with materials needed already prepared according to the Practice Station Set Up Directions

Setting Up The Science Notebook For Stations:

I go around the room and discuss each station by holding the tool up, and asking for a volunteer to tell me the name of the tool and what it is used to measure.  I then ask for another volunteer to explain how to use it correctly.  This is a good review from the previous lesson and allows me to see if there are any misconceptions that need correcting.  After the one or two minute review discussion, I explain the task they will be completing in that station.  I then display the tool practice station charts for recording information for that station on the overhead, I keep all other station charts covered until after discussing them.  I teach my students the importance of organizing their data and measurements in charts so that it is easier to read and share with others. Students copy the chart down in their science notebook and I circulate to keep them on task.  Once they are finished, I move on to discussing the next station.  

After all of the charts are created, I remind them that they will take their notebook to all stations to record their answers.  I explain that I will be circulating to observe them work with the tools and will be checking them off for mastery.  I should be seeing all students practicing with each tool, and would like to see anyone who is confused asking their group members for assistance.  I also expect everyone to have the charts in their notebooks completely filled out with units of measure included.  I ask if anyone has any questions before moving on.


30 minutes

Working In Stations:

Before sending students to stations, I display the Group Work Participation Checklist on the overhead and explain that they will be graded for their group work today through this checklist.  Everything I just explained to them in the previous section will be recorded as I observe it.  I explain that each item missing from the checklist will lower their grade one letter grade.  I tell students they will have 5 minutes in each station, and remind them they should be taking their science notebook and pencil with them.  I assign a starting station to each group and have them move to their stations quietly.  I set my overhead timer for 5 minutes, and tell them to begin working on the task.

Video of students using the measuring tape

Video of students using the spring scale

Video of students using the graduated cylinders

I circulate and listen to conversations and observe students working with the tools.  I complete the Group Work Participation Checklist as I circulate.  I require observing their participation in 4 out of the 6 stations, only because I get caught up with struggling groups sometimes and don’t make it around for all of them. I do not tell students this when going over the checklist because I want them participating in all activities, not thinking they only have to do 4 out of the 6.  I also use the back of the checklist for notes on struggling groups or students so I can work with them later in the day when time allows.  Students receive feedback from the checklist on a sticky note the following day.  I write their score, and comments about what I saw in the rotations.  I place the sticky note in their agenda so they can go over it with their parents at night. 

Wrap Up

15 minutes

Checking for Understading:

When the final timer buzzes, I instruct students to clean up the station they are at, make sure it looks the way it did when they got there, and return to their seats.  I provide each group with a stack of sticky notes, giving each group a different color.  As their exit slip for the day, I tell them I want their measurements for stations 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 recorded on a sticky note and placed on the correct location on the exit slip chart that is posted on the wall in the back of the room.  I suggest that each student in the group be responsible for one of the stations information and that they just copy the chart straight from their notebook. 

As they complete the task, I circulate to check notebooks for completeness and mark them off on the participation checklist.  I am only checking for completeness, not accuracy as I do not have time to check 20 notebooks for accuracy at this time.  When students leave, I am able to look at the information each group recorded on the exit slips and see where there were concerns.  I know which group is which based on the color of sticky note, which is why it is important to have a different color for each group.   

Picture of sticky notes for exit tickets

Picture of sticky notes from exit tickets