As the new school year is about to begin, I am thinking of new ways to incorporate more hands on activities in science. I am lucky that the science adoption in my district includes kits with hands on experiments. However, I am planning to incorporate more STEAM activities to broaden my science curriculum. I am a strong believer that science needs manipulatives, experiments, and investigation.
I have had situations in the past where I had extremely limited resources and a curriculum that had reading from a textbook. For those of you in this situation, start off small and build on what you have. That is why STEAM activities are a good start because many lessons require simple and inexpensive materials.
I have do some science experiments each year that teach the science concepts the students need to learn. One of the experiments is about how soil and water heat differently. My kit comes with the containers and thermometers. But if a teacher didn’t have any supplies, the only expense would be the thermometers since containers are easy to get. I have 8 of each for a class of thirty-two.
The students would sit outside and take the temperature of the soil and water every three minutes for thirty minutes. So, I have my kiddos multitask. While they wait during each three minute check ins, students work on other things like reading, writing, or other school work. This activity is always fun because the students like getting out of the classroom!
Another activity I do is teach the students how to separate mixtures. Now the big obstacle here is the funnel, if you don’t have any. But what I like about doing this activity is when we prepare for the test, I ask my students to visualize what we did during the experiment. This is why hands on is important! Students can remember back through the procedures and what results they discovered and that helps them analyze and evaluate the experiment for the test.
Probably my most memorable science lab is dissecting the cow eye. I have to tell you, I can barely get through this activity each year. I have personal issues about eyes (must of been a childhood memory of a horror film or something). I can do any other dissection known to man, but I plead with my parents every Back to School Night to assist me in this activity. Anyways, we dissect the cow’s eye on Halloween – a tradition for 5th graders on our campus. Boy, my students go nuts over this hands on activity! They will talk about it for months. Again, I am lucky we have a budget for the lesson. For four 5th grade classes – it cost around $250. Then there is the cost of scalpels and tweezers.
So, maybe dissection might not be something you could do, but the point is find something that you can make work in your room. The truth is we try to bring all subjects to life in different ways. Not everyday, but enough to engage and imprint knowledge to our students. Science is an area that needs it the most, especially since science is learning how to investigate, make predictions, compare results, and test unanswered questions. Reading about it just isn’t enough.
As for me, I am going to continue the experiments I have been doing, but I am putting together some new hands on science experiments for the upcoming year and I am very excited about that!
Have a great week and I hope to have you stop by next week!