Next Generation Science Standards:
2-LS2-2 addresses developing a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants. In creating animal, students are provided with an opportunity to show that they comprehend how animals disperse seeds to help with creating new plants. Also, this lesson permits students to use the engineering design process to create their model.
Science and Engineering Practices:
Students are engaged in developing and using models. They create a simple structure of an animal that disperse seeds in order to assist plants. This activity is imperative because my students are provided the opportunity to use the engineering design to create an animal that disperse seeds.
This lesson connects to the concept "Structure and Function". The shape and stability of structures of natural and designed objects are related to their function(s). It is imperative for students to comprehend that animals help plants by moving their seeds from place to place. Seeds can get stuck in animals' fur. When the animals move, the seeds move with the animals. The seeds fall off the animals. If the seeds receive the right conditions (sunlight, air, and water), the seeds can germinate and produce new plants.
Students have some prior knowledge about how plants help animals and animals help plants. They understand that animals can help disperse seeds and the seeds can germinate if they are provided food, water, sunlight, and air. They also know that seeds can travel by wind and water depending on how the seeds are form.
In the weekly newsletter, I ask parents to donate items for students to create an animal such as: different size boxes, various fabrics, and bird seeds. Also, I invited a parent to assist with the material section on the day of the activity.
Various boxes-small and medium
Form- 6"Block, 6" cube, 3"cube, 2" ball, and 4" half ball
Form Board for cutting various shapes for ears (i.e. triangle, squares, or rectangles)
Various fabrics- leopard print, zebra print, brow
Very small bag of bird seeds
Assorted wiggly eyes- various shapes and colors
At their desks, students sing a song that the class sings at the opening of each science lesson. This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson.
I call on a student to read our "I Can" statement for the day. While using a microphone, a scientist says, "I can construct a model of an animal that disperses seeds using the engineering design process." The "I Can" statement helps students take ownership of the lesson as they put standards in to context. The other students praise the student that reads the "I Can" statement by clapping. I encourage students to give each other praise to boost their self-esteem.
I review with the students about how animals help disperse seeds. Then these questions are asked, "how do animals help plants? how can a bird help a plant by eating berries? how can animals help disperse seeds? what are other ways seeds can be disperse?" Students are asked questions to help stimulate their thinking before being engaged in the engineering design process.
To address the science and engineering practices for developing and using models, students use the steps of the engineering design process. I ask the students to recall the engineering design steps: ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve, to make sure that they comprehend each step. Students are reminded about safety rules and group rules. I remind the students to make sure that they stay on task. Also, it is important that they understand that scientists must follow safety rules in order to stay out of danger.
My students proceed to their group tables when I say "we are on the move" and they stand and sing, We are on the Move. This routine helps my students to move to their table with very little distraction. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children that enjoy moving.
Here is the process that I lead with the students.....
When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader which is one of my advanced students. Leadership qualities are present. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role. I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permit students to develop confidence in their roles as well as use their strengths to accomplish their group's goals. All hands must be on deck. The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference to them.
The Engineering Design Lab sheet is located at their table. Scientists use lab sheets to record their information and to assist with their investigation. Therefore, the lab sheet helps students begin to work and think like a scientist with very little guidance from me.
Students are informed that they will complete the engineering design process.
Groups are encouraged to observe the materials area. They ask questions about the materials that they see. This helps with the 1st step of the engineering design process: ask questions. They record at least 2 questions on their sheets. I provide the students with 5 minutes to assist with staying on task. I permit some groups to share their questions with the groups.
Students are informed that they must design a model of an animal that disperses seeds. When the animal is complete, it must be able to hold seeds in order to disperse the seeds. They are informed that they can select items from the materials section. However, there are some restrictions. You can only get 1 medium box, 2 small boxes or Styrofoam or 1 small box and Styrofoam, 2 pipe cleaners, 1 piece of fabric, a bag of seeds, and a pair of eyes. If they want something cut, I ask them to see the parent and they can do it if they measure it, using a black marker to show where to cut. This is the material areas.
Next, groups are encouraged to imagine what they design by discussing it in their groups. They are reminded to respect everyone's voice. Then the students sketch their design on the lab sheet. Once they have sketched their design, I inform groups to show me their design so I can approve their model. Groups can select a peer to gather their supplies. Once students get their materials, they create their animal. Here is a copy of a student lab sheet-Engineering Design Lab Sheet.
As groups collaborate, I play the role of the facilitator. I ask the groups: how did you design your creation? Why you use certain materials? How can your animal disperse seed? Why did you select a particular fabric? Also, I am monitoring group interactions to ensure that they are collaborating collectively.
The groups use the Animals Dispersing Seeds-Checklist to check their work.
Here are our animals.
Students return to their desks and groups present their creation . After the groups present, students share advice to their peers such as: what could be improved?; what could be done differently?; what did you like about the group's design?
Once each group shares, groups are informed that they can return back to their area to make improvements.
Students are then called back to the carpet to share their final creations.
At the end of the lesson, I collect student lab sheets to make sure that they followed the steps such as: ask questions, sketch and drew their design, and made improvements (if necessary). Also, I observe the group's animal to make sure that it can disperse seeds.