Wednesday, 27 January 2016

What Science Teachers Really Want (And Need!)


As I begin to plan some new science units, and think about what I'll need in the next few weeks for completing science fair projects in the classroom, my shopping list is growing longer and longer.  

At my school, we get $200 a year to use on classroom supplies as we choose.  Some teachers choose to use the money for art supplies or field trips.  I blow through my money within the first few weeks of school.

#broke

True, hands-on, inquiry science requires "stuff".  Kids need to get their hands dirty and learn through tactile experience.  I buy these items myself because I value the learning, but it would be nice to have some of these items considered standard school supplies.

If you're reading this, and you're a science teacher, let me know in the comments what items you think I should add to the list.  If you're reading this, and you're a parent, maybe you can consider some of these items as teacher gifts instead of chocolate in the future.  (Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate, but I need these items more!)  If you're an administrator reading this, I encourage you to ask your staff what resources they need to support their science teaching.

Here's my list of items any science teacher is going to use throughout the year - no matter the grade, no matter the units. 


Sleep masks work great as blindfolds.  We use these when talking about the senses, and in many different science fair projects. 

Balloons seem to be a go-to science item for me.  I've used them in my sound unit for teaching about pitch (rolling different sized items inside), to capture gas in a unit on matter, for lung capacity and model lungs in my body systems unit.... all colours welcome!


 I wish I had 10 of these.  For science, and otherwise.  Anytime my class does a project for presentation (I'm thinking Science Fair here), it's important that they look good.  I like this paper trimmer because it is safe and easy for kids to use, small and portable.  Nice, straight lines are important!

 Again, another item for presentations.  Glue sticks don't hold.  White glue is too runny and makes paperwork all bumpy.  These rollers are perfect for attaching items to Science Fair boards.  I probably go through 30 of these (1 per student) during Science Fair time.

Plastic cups.  Big ones, small ones.  Clear, white... From making anemometers, to digestive system demos, to just sorting out supplies.  Plastic cups are a must have.



Food colouring has all sorts of uses in Science.  I use the blue in my demo for how precipitation occurs.  I use red to dye Cheerios to simulate red blood cells.  It's great for dying water to show osmosis.  I could go on for quite a while about this....

 

And finally, if you aren't sure, but what to pick up a gift for a science teacher (or any teacher for that matter) a Dollar Store gift card is always greatly appreciated!  The Dollar Store is probably kept in business by teachers.
 
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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Using Planaria to Teach the Scientific Method


If you're a frequent reader of my blog, then you know my favourite subject to teach is Science.  This year, I'm teaching a grade 4/5 split.  In the grade 5 curriculum I am to teach about body systems.  The grade 4s get to learn about habitats and adaptations.

With Science Fair coming up in February, it was time to teach the Scientific Method.  I've created this poster set which I use to introduce and later on reinforce the method.  You can click on the image to find out more.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Scientific-Method-1055385


Right now, these are out on my hallway bulletin board:


I knew that planaria would be a fun way to wrap up our units, and introduce the Scientific Method all at the same time.  Planaria are a unique species, and my kiddos probably wouldn't ever come across them unless they look some high school or university level biology courses (which I hope they do!)


They arrived in this box, which was excitement in itself.  They were very well packed and everyone had to watch the unboxing.

Planaria have very basic organs and systems.  They have a nerve net, not an entire nervous system. They have eye spots, not true eyes.  They do have a retractable pharynx which serves as mouth and anus (insert 10 year old giggles and gags here).  The other super cool thing is that they regenerate.

We have worked through 3 different labs with the planaria.  In the first, we investigated their response to magnetism as a whole class.  They had lots of fun tracking the planaria as they wandered about the Petri dish.  We used this information to do some data analysis.  We're currently watching the stages of regeneration and recording observations each day.

I snapped some photos during our third lab.  We observed the planaria in a variety of ways - natural movements, their response to stimuli and feeding.


A blurry photo - a closeup of the planaria eating.  The kids thought it was cool that you could see the liver inside the planaria too.


I provided students with the procedure, but they had to list their hypothesis and materials for each lab.  They also had to record all observations and results.

I ❤love❤ this photo!  It's so great how engaged they all are!

 


I know that hands-on Science takes extra work and money.  But, when you look at this level of engagement, you can see how worth it it all is!

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Monday, 4 January 2016

Do you want to draw a snowman?

... do you want to go outside and play?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Last year, my students created these awesome watercolour snowmen.  I was saving it till this year to blog about, once the snow showed itself again. 

This was my class' first experience with watercolour pencil crayons.  We started out by reviewing what they already knew: warm vs. cool colours.  We then looked at complementary and analogous colours as well as what monochromatic means. 


For each colour type, students had to show what they understood by practicing with the watercolour pencil crayons.  This helped them understand how much pencil to apply to the paper, the proper pressure and how to blend with water.

 

I had set the room up in rows, and everyone was lucky enough to get their own pack of watercolour pencil crayons.  That makes the biggest difference!  I love how engaged they were.  No one noticed I was standing on the back shelves.  *shh!*


The drawing of the actual snowmen took a few days.  Day 1 was drawing with pencil.  Day 2 was finelining and Day 3 was colouring.

We used this video to help us out.  It was important to remember to fineline with a waterproof black pen so the lines didn't run once colouring.

I love an art project where we all do the same thing, but they can turn out looking so unique.  Every snowman had it's own special personality!


Students didn't have to colour the toque and scarf the same as in the video.  They were allowed to do them the same colour, or something complementary or analogous.  They just had to explain their colour choice to me.


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