I Know What A Scientist Does

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SWBAT explain what a scientist does by creating a cartoon about a scientist.

Big Idea

Students need to be able to verbalize their understandings. This lesson assesses their understanding of what a scientist does.

Teacher Notes

This lesson is designed to be done over the course of 3 science blocks -- the third is for sharing the finished products. 

In the first block, the project is introduced and students draw a picture of themselves as a scientist. In the second block students write a script. The goal for writing a script is to assess student understanding of what a scientist is and does. Application of learning is a higher order thinking skill than straight recall and I want to encourage students to apply their learning.  I could have given a formal assessment, but I want to encourage students to think creatively as they apply what they have learned to a writing assignment. 

The final block would be for creating the Puppet Pals presentation on the iPad. If you do not have access to iPads or similar technology, the puppets could be made out of paper bags and each group could perform their puppet show for the class.

This lesson is not built around one particular NGSS science standard, but instead looks at a general understanding of what a scientist might do in any of  the ares of science. It does encourage scientific thinking and reasoning as students must think about what type of scientist they would want to be, and what that type of scientist might do. (SP1, SP8)

By having students write a script pretending that they are scientists, they will need to talk with one another and explain their scientists. This is a way to encourage students to talk about science through their puppets.

I Can

5 minutes

I begin today with the I Can statement. I ask students to read it with me. The statement reads, "I Can talk like a scientist." 

I say,"today you will have a chance to pretend you are a scientist and to carry on a conversation with another scientist. You will make a cartoon on the IPAD using Puppet Pals.

Making a cartoon is like writing a story. You figure out what you are going to say, and then you put together the pictures and backgrounds to make it interesting.

I am going to give you part of a script and you will need to finish it. After it is finished you will join with a friend to put your production on the IPAD. We will talk about how to use Puppet Pals after we write our scripts."

Getting Ready for The Script

20 minutes

"Are you ready to be a movie writer? So today you are going to pretend that you are a scientist. You are going to tell us what tools you use, what kinds of things you do to figure things out and what kinds of problems you solve.

We have talked a lot about scientists in the last few weeks and we even met a few. Now we are going to pretend that we are one of those scientists that we read about, met or have learned about by doing our own science.

Let's start by thinking about what scientists do. Let's brainstorm some ideas. Can you tell me some things that the scientists do?" (Here I am asking for straight recall of things we have learned. When the students begin writing their scripts, I hope that they will apply their learning to this creative task.)

I record student ideas on the easel. I ask questions to encourage students to think about tools scientists use, things they observe, different types of science, etc. 

"Now I would like each of you to draw a picture of yourself as the scientist you would like to be. Be sure to include the tools you might use, and where you might do your job." I give students about 15 minutes to draw before going on with the lesson. 

"I see some great pictures. You really know a lot about what scientists do. So now you are going to use these ideas, and other ideas you may have and write a script about two scientists who meet each other and want to know what the other one does. Let me show you what I mean."

I project the scientist script on the board and bring up two pictures of scientists, one a marine biologist on a ship, and one in a lab. As I read the script and fill in the blanks verbally, I point to the different pictures and the words.

"Hi, my name is Mr. Marine, I am a scientist. I am a scientist too, my name is Ms. Labby. What kind of work do you do? I work in a lab and look at things through a microscope. How about you? I study the ocean and work on boats."

I read through the rest of the script the same way.  I purposefully do not write down what I am saying because I want students to fill in the scripts on their own. I want to use the scripts as an informal assessment of their understanding of what a scientist is and an application of their learning.

"Ok, so now you are going to write your script with your science partner."  (I want students to work together on this task. I want to encourage the students to communicate their understanding directly and through the puppets.) You will each use your pictures to help you think about your scientist and what they might do as they work.

Writing the Script and Creating the Presentation

30 minutes

Students sit with their science partners.  I have chosen to use science partners in my classroom this year to encourage meaningful conversations about science. The two partners remain together over the duration of a term. By having the same partner over time, students are more likely to engage in meaningful science conversation because instead of working with best friends, they are working with classmates for a mutual goal. They bring their pictures to help them remember what type of scientist they are. Together the students fill in the script.

I remind them, " you can see that there are 2 different speakers. One is the light colored print and the other will be the dark. You should fill in the lines according to which scientist you are. The Script When your script is done, you will need to show it to me. Then you will get an IPAD and go to Puppet Pals. You will choose a character and then use the camera piece to take your own picture to put your face on the character body. You can choose a background for your scientists to be at and even draw in your tools or things you study. When it is done you will record your script as you move your characters around." Making The Movie

(If your students have not used this program before you will want to take a few minutes to explore ahead and then be ready to show students how they can create the characters and record the voice.)

As students are working, I circulate around the room, helping with the technology, encouraging good partner work, and making sure that the students are recording their scripts to go with their characters. 

Sharing and Reviewing the I Can Statement

30 minutes

I ask students to get ready for our great movies. We set up a movie theatre arrangement with the chairs in front of the Smart Board. Part of a Finished Movie

I project each video onto the Smart Board for students to view. Before we start I ask, "what kinds of things might you say after you view someone's video?" (I take volunteer suggestions.) "What kinds of things might you not want to say?" (hurtful words, unkind words). Ok so remember to be respectful as you watch each other's videos and make kind comments at the end."

(Depending on the number of videos, and the attention span of students, you may want to allow students to take a break part way through the showing.)

At the end I ask for general final comments. I praise students for their efforts. I also make notes for myself during the presentations about student levels of understanding about scientists for my informal assessment.

I ask students to look at the I Can statement. I ask students to show with a thumb vote (up, straight or down) if they met the I Can goals. I praise all students for their hard work.