We gather on the floor. I call one table at a time to come to the floor and sit like scientists.
Once we are sitting on the floor together, I review the 3D models the tables have already created.
We have a quick review discussion about each model. This gets them thinking about what we have learned throughout the year, which is what I am working for here. I want them thinking about everything we've learned because we are going to set up a science museum for other classes and parents to visit.
I ask the kids if they've ever been to a museum. I call on volunteers to share their experiences from various museums. The great thing is that the kids do have experiences in museums! That is a celebration and we build off of them to create our own museum.
Still sitting on the floor, I ask the kids what they would like to have in their end-of-year museum. Naturally, they say the 3D models because we review them in this lesson.
I record on chart paper all the suggestions that the kids provide. We then work our way through the list to make it manageable. This is done by having them go over the list three more times. I encourage them to be rich in content, but reasonable. I ask the question, "Do we think we can really get this done?"
We cross things off the list as we review it. SEE IMAGE in RESOURCES
The first round takes longer than the second and third because with each round, the kids become more aware of time and rationalism of getting the work done.
The explore part comes when I have the table leaders once more choose a task from the bucket. I record the tasks from the museum list and tear them off the page and put them in a bucket.
The table leaders come up one at a time to draw a slip. They take it to their table. Their teammates join him at the table and the team leader reads the slip, with assistance if needed. The team then immediately begins to discuss what this will look like in the museum.
I encourage the groups to try to make the exhibits interactive so if the attendees can participate, make or use something in the museum that reflects the task, please do so.
I tell the class that I will be walking around the room to talk with each team to see what ideas we can come up with for the museum that is doable and interactive.
Once I visit with a team, they are sent to see the supplies on the horseshoe table. This is a great time to have an aid or parent helper if you can get one. If you cannot, I have hired fifth grade honor roll students to attend to the supply table. I have them come in one day at lunch and I explain how to supervise the table. Personalize that for you and your students.
Then pay them in soda and time out from class at the end of the year. The big kids love helping the little ones! I also have them come in to assist in putting the science museum together.
The extension to everything we have learned all year is in this section.
Once the teams have previewed available materials, planned their task and met with me, we are ready to extend our year-long learning into a interactive experience for others.
The kids build the "centers" they will be presenting to other students and families. I actually keep the class after school for an hour one day the last week of school, usually the last Tuesday and have the families of my students come in and experience what we've been working on all year. Each table has these jobs:
Greeter - Welcomes people to the tables
Speaker - explains activity or model
Assistant - assists visitors with completing task or experience
Monitor - keeps record of supplies used and refills/replaces when necessary
One fifth grader is hired to assist each table team as well during school time and for the hour after school. We do this from 2:30 to 3:30.
The next morning, we invite the fifth graders back for a class party that includes clean up, snacks and a movie. That is their "pay."
Invitations for our science museum are sent out two weeks and then again one week in advance before we even build it, so we know our work has to be strong and accurate.
The evaluations are done in three parts:
Student team self-evaluations like the life cycles. It is actually the same evaluation form.
Teacher evaluation, which I meet with each team to discuss and make modifications to the exhibits if necessary.
Visitor evaluations that are filled out by guests that reflect their experience with our museum overall. They are asked to identify the level of quality of experience as well as share what they enjoyed the most and what we should improve on.
We compile all data into a graph the last week of school and discuss what worked and what we could have done better. No matter what, it's all a celebration for kindergarten!
The explanations come from the kids to their audiences. Groups choose a spokes person and that person explains to the visitors what they are going to experience at their table.
The teams work together to give the speaker the information they are going to share with the visitors. I also interject into this conversation during my evaluation meeting with the groups. The speaker might be the one delivering the information, although I encourage all students to chime in when needed, but in no way is a single student responsible for coming up with all the information to share with visitors on their own.
I also have the teams practice their meet, greet, share and explore experiences with other teams in the room. I video tape their interactions and I go over the recording with each team. I usually do this during lunch periods. I also do it during library time. I just bring my laptop with me and call teams up while we are in library. I recommend devoting about 10-15 minutes per team for review practice video.
Note: I have had many teachers skeptical about creating a museum with their kinders. I can assure you that if you raise the level of expectations for your students throughout the year, they will reach up to them. Your kids can state and defend; they can explain; they can work together; they can successfully and proudly create and deliver a working science museum. It is all up to you!
This year, my class includes two developmentally delayed students, one severe. I also have two emotionally disturbed students, and one ELL monolingual student. Science not only united us as a team, but also nearly eliminated all behavior issues that I had at the beginning of the year. Simply stated, my kids rose to the challenges I placed in front of them and did an excellent job!