An Eye Wash Station
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so sometimes I use pictures or images to get the students thinking about the lesson. I would post this picture of an eye wash station, up on the document camera in my room. If you don't have a document camera you could make copies of the image and put one copy at each student work station. This strategy is effective to get them thinking about science, writing, about science, and communicating about science. As students write, encourage them to incorporate vocabulary words like: goggles, eye wash, lab coat, experiment.
Now, post the image of an eye wash station. I have students use their science journals and take about three minutes to write about the picture, draw their own pictures, and/or add questions about the picture. I wrap it up and take 1 minute for students to share their thoughts and ideas. This gives other students an opportunity to learn from their peers.
I ask, "Who would like to share their thoughts, pictures, or questions?" Then students share.
You could also have students show their work on your document camera. Most students are willing to let others view their artwork. When students share their answers, they should be telling about how to use an eye wash station, or why you would need to use an eye wash station in the science lab. Also, look for additional questions they might write in their science journals and take time to address their concerns.
Lab safety is so important and can't be emphasized enough! This activity will help students think through all aspects of safety as they work together to create a final product. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1 states students will engage effectively in collaborative discussions building on other's ideas and expressing their own clearly. That is what students do as they design and create their safety poster. Collaboration is one component in the rubric for the poster along with adequately answering the safety questions and organizing information in a clear, logical way. It takes collaboration to develop an effective final product.
I like forming cooperative groups in my science classroom. It's research based. It's best practice. It gives students an opportunity to work with a variety of peers. So, I would put students into small, cooperative groups to create this Safety Poster. Sometimes, I will group students myself, other times I will do it randomly. One way I randomly group students is by using a deck of cards. Count out the number of students in the classroom, choose the number of cards needed (for example: 2 or 3 of each card number like 2-3's, 2-4's, 2-5's, etc). Then I let students choose a card and find their group.
Now, I give each group one of the Lab Safety Stations and give them time to read the scenario. At this point, they are free to create and design their Lab Safety Poster. When students learn about Lab Safety they are also growing their understanding Cause and Effect, which is one of the NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts.
I like to give students a variety of options to create their Safety Poster. Glogster is a free, online website where students can make virtual posters. It's fun. It's creative. It enhances their technology skills. Other options include making a paper poster, using PowerPoint, or using Prezi or Google Docs online.
I want students to be successful, so I provide a Safety Poster Rubric which identifies benchmarks for the final product. This supports the learning and helps me to quickly assess student work. By using clearly developed rubrics, I have found that students are more successful in their work. Rubrics can be designed and redesigned to fit the needs of any project.
Let's Vote . . .The Best of Show!
By giving students the opportunity to vote for the "Best of Show," you empower them to make good decisions.
I like procedures that are quick and easy! For voting, you could buy a package of small, round, colored stickers, and then even designate that 1st Place is red, 2nd Place is blue, and 3rd place is green, for example, or mix it up if you have different colors. Have a variety of stickers at each student work station and then you can give them 5 minutes to take stickers and vote for the "Best of Show!" If students use technology, have them show their project on their computer, otherwise have them display their poster.
I create a small poster (8 1/2" x 11") with the safety question and put that at each table. This will give them an opportunity to review the safety question and a place to put their sticker.
I clearly state the expectations for voting:
I think that giving students time to view their peer's work and take a vote is time well spent. It also gives them time to get up and walk around, which is also valuable in middle school!