Using science tools in class is an important skill. Using a Triple Beam Balance is a mathematical tool (MP5 use appropriate tools strategically), and when students use tools, they are engaged and able to explore how to measure (MP4 model with mathematics). At my school, my students use a triple beam balance but this activity will work with whatever tools you have at your school.
It's best practice to show students how to use the tool and then give them time to explore and practice. I show a video "Using A Triple Beam Balance," because it gives students a visual understanding of the process. I usually show the video twice so students have a chance to process the information.
Before I show the video I ask, "Thumbs up or down, who has used a balance in science class before?" This will help me gauge their understanding. Then I show the video.
After the video, I give each group of students (usually 2-3 students) a balance and let them take 2 minutes to explore on their own.
Scientists need tools to do science and measuring is one way they do that. Measuring brings math and science together. Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking is a core concept in the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. Students need to know how to measure accurately in order to share data and information with other scientists and metric is the "language" of science.
I have students work with a partner. I know this is best for students because they learn from each other's success and misunderstandings. As a whole class, I have students measure the same item to gauge their understanding. It is important that all groups measure the same item so that the class will get the same answer. Measure something like a penny, paper clip, post-it pad, or wooden block. I circulate the room, helping each group of students with the measuring task. This provides opportunity to (formative) assess their understanding of the process.
I give students the Mass Metric Measuring worksheet and give directions on where to find supplies for the activity. I find that keeping a tray of supplies at each table provides a clear understanding of where to find each item that needs to be measured.
Then, I let them work with their partner to measure each item, complete the data table, and answer each other's questions.
Student Reflection Measuring Mass
I use an exit slip because it's best practice. It is a formative assessment strategy that quickly tells me if my students understand the lesson.
I use a variety of strategies because students learn in different ways. This Ticket Out The Door provides a differentiated approach for students to write about their understanding of the lesson. By giving options, it is also a valuable tool for ELL and Special Education students.