The Mobius Strip

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SWBAT gather information using their senses.

Big Idea

Scientists observe the world around them. Whenever you make an observation you are acting like a scientist.

Bell Ringer - What Is A Scientist? What Does A Scientist Look Like?

10 minutes

What is a scientist? What does a scientist look like? When you ask your students these important questions, you are having them examine their own preconceptions about scientists.

Students respond to the Bell Ringer Questions "What is a scientist? What does a scientist look like?" by writing and drawing their answers in their science journal.

I want students to Draw To Communicate because drawing compliments their writing and helps them to create a visual memory. My writing expectations include: using complete sentences, a capital letter, and correct end punctuation. These are school-wide writing expectations for all sixth grade students whenever they write.

After about 2 minutes to process their thoughts, have them share with the class using popsicle sticks to draw students into the discussion. By discussing their answers, all students will have a chance to hear other responses.

At this point, tell them there are a variety of answers to the questions and that everyone is a scientist when they observe the world around them, and that is what they are doing right now!

Before students watch the video, I say, "As you watch the video, consider how your writing and drawing compare and contrast with the message in the video? What does a scientist look like? Are you a scientist?"  

I like the video "What is a scientist?" because it provides a variety of answers to the question. It provides students an opportunity to see the profession in different ways.

So, what is a scientist? 

The Mobius Strip

25 minutes

Students are challenged by the Mobius Strip lab to practice the scientific method, practice making observations, and practice hypothesizing possible outcomes for a simple experiment. Doing this lab is just one way to get students to make keen observations and asking questions and defining problems is at the core of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. Students will question their thinking in this experiment.

While students get directions and read the lab they are also practicing CCSS Science Literacy Standard RST.6-8.4 - Determining the meaning of symbols, key terms, & other domain specific vocabulary. They will practice words like hypothesis, data, experiment, and conclusion.

Teacher Tip: If these vocabulary words have not yet been taught, they will need to be taught in context during this lesson. I tell students to highlight the vocabulary words. We discuss each word as they come up in the lesson.

When my students are first learning to implement the scientific method, I find it best practice to go through each step with them. After giving them The Mobius Strip lab, we read the directions. I read them aloud while students also read them silently. I do this because my students are at a variety of reading levels.

As students write their hypothesis, give them time to process. This is when I would circulate the classroom to make sure they have the right idea.  Taking time to share a few written hypotheses will give students confidence that they are "on the right track." A sentence stem is provided for each hypothesis: I think that .........because ........ The hypothesis should reflect what the question is asking. I tell students to "put the question into the answer." This step can be broken down further by dividing the statement into two pieces so a student can work on one at a time. For example:  I think that.... I know this because...

After distributing supplies, I actually make a Mobius Strip with the class to show them what it looks like. Give them time to make their own and then continue with the procedure.

Watch this three (3) part video to understand the Mobius Strip.

Mobius Strip Part 1

Mobius Strip Part 2

Mobius Strip Part 3

A Mobius Strip represents challenges for students in two ways: students must express the details of an observation, and the model has a counter intuitive one-sidedness. It's a surface with a single-side.

The room fills with chatter and excitement as they get to the "cutting" step. It is exciting to observe what happens! The important part of this activity isn't the activity - it is the experience of learning to make an observation and create an hypothesis. It is important students have time to answer the questions and write a conclusion because here is when they will understand the importance of making good observations. What did they really observe today? How does the Mobius Strip work?

Conclusion - What Did You Really Observe Today?

5 minutes

What did you really observe today?

So now a quick formative assessment. Did they "get it?"

When I gather the class back together I pose the question "What did you really observe today?"

Give students a choice of sentence starters to jump start their thinking:

  • I learned that today I observed . . .
  • To summarize, I observed . . .
  • So in the end I observed . . .

I give students 2 minutes to think and then share with their partner. Taking time to let students Think-Pair-Share with their partner is a valuable strategy that will increase student achievement. 

Sharing out with the class takes only about 2 minutes. I look for responses such as "I didn't think that you could cut a piece of paper in half and still get one piece!" So, what did you really observe today? Ask them and they will tell you!