As soon as I ask the class to get ready for science they are excited. However, when I explain that they will be completing their first experiments today, the class erupts with joy. I have to settle them down and tell them that in order to participate I need their attention and respect.
I then go over my expectations for working in groups and that at each phase of the experiment I will have very specific rules and directions they will have to follow. I ask them to get out their bookmarks that they have created going over the scientific method. We are going to start by going through each step together. I go over the purpose as trying to figure out how we can the best team mates when working together. To research I need to review what we know about working together. We have a brief discussion going over this. I then give them my hypothesis or prediction, that we will all learn something about team work when we finish.
I split the class into groups of four. I have them move into their groups so that I can go over the first experiment. Once they are ready, I explain that the oldest member of the team is the materials specialist. That person will need to get a plate and tube of toothpaste (travel size) from the front of the room and place that in the center of the group. everyone else needs to listen and not touch anything.
For the first experiment, they will all need to place one hand on the paper plate and one hand on the tube of toothpaste. Working all together and without talking they have to squeeze out all of the toothpaste onto the paper plate. I then have them get ready and let them squeeze away.
Once all the tubes are emptied, I then gather their attention and ask the groups to give me their attention for the next experiment. Before we move on, I ask them to discuss how it went not being able to talk and how did they end up communicating to get the job done. I ask if there were any positive things that happened and if anything was negative.
We are now ready for the second phase, and I ask my materials specialists to return to the supply table and to retrieve a toothpick for each member of the group. As they do this, I remind the class they are not poke anyone this is their science tool and they need it to take part in the experiment. For this part, each member of the team can only use their toothpick, without talking, to put the toothpaste back into the tube. They need to do their best and they will be only given two minutes to make this happen. I then say go and watch the mayhem that follows.
Getting the class to come back for a discussion is always fun after round two. Once I have their attention, I ask them to help me out with how working as a team went. I start with by drawing a line down the middle of the white board. I ask them to tell me the positives and negatives of working together. I also ask them what might have helped them more if the rules were changed. I then get at the heart of team work and circle all the words that are needed to make a good team. I have each student choose four or five words and write them into their science journal. This way they can remember what makes a good team and they have words to help them be that good team member.