Math can be difficult, so I start the class with a visual Bell Ringer. I show the video: Volume-Rectangular Prisms. This will get students thinking about volume and how to calculate volume.
I ask students to write in their Science Journal during the video. Students should write or draw three things they learned from the video. A Science Journal serves as a place for students to write their thoughts, ideas, and questions. It's a place to take notes, write procedures, and define vocabulary terms. I want students to draw in their journal because it allows them to create a visual representation, model, or image.
After the video, it is important to take 2 minutes to share student thoughts and ideas from their journal. This gives all students time to process the learning and hear other student's thoughts. I am looking for answers such as: volume = length x width x height, you have to calculate accurately to get the volume, there is some math involved in finding the volume of an object.
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.
Measuring volume is an important skill and thinking metric can be difficult. With this is integrated science and math activity, STEM, where students will learn about volume of objects and understand how to calculate volume.
This lab incorporates the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SP#5) as students use mathematics and computational thinking to determine the volume of a prism. This practice encourages students to use mathematics to analyze data (MP1 make sense of problems and persevere in solving them). Students use the formula for volume (lwh=v) to find the volume of two prisms made from the same size sheet of paper. Then they explain why the prisms do not hold the same amount or are not the same volume.
For this inquiry, I have students read the lab and complete it with their partner. After practicing lab procedures and the scientific method several times, I want students to read and move through each step with their peer. Students work together and help each other create the prisms, and peer to peer discussions take place.
Note: I want to give credit to the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) for this volume resource. The website Illuminations: Resources for Teaching Math is a reliable, easily accessible resource.
Now, let's write a conclusion. As with any experiment, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but that ok. This provides opportunity to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and changes that could be made to the experiment. This step is very important for students to "come full circle."
I have learned that you need to take students back to the question so they can think about the process. Which rectangular prism will hold more popcorn? Take 1-2 minutes for students to process this question and write a conclusion. I give them a sentence starter to help with the process, for example: I learned that . . .because. . . Take 1-2 minutes to share answers with the class so students can hear other student thoughts.