Inquiry Science in the Preschool Classroom?

Inquiry driven teaching in many ways is a recasting of what great teachers always did. The teachers that stood out in my mind were the ones that engaged the class in some way, a science project, history project, community work, something. Some action that ended-up teaching me as much as the teacher did.

Go to PBS Teachers

Go to PBS Teachers

The folks over at PBS Teachers have a treasure trove of material that I have used for my kids from age 3 and up, all the way through the college level for influenza. So I often find myself looking through to see what they have to offer. While doing so I came across an article that addresses how a teacher might engage the kindergarten crowd using techniques that are surprising centered around inquiry methods.

Read the article “Science in the Preschool Classroom“. for more…

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17 thoughts on “Inquiry Science in the Preschool Classroom?

  1. Hi All,

    For your reflection on this piece I want you to imagine that you are setting up a “science center”. Choose and arena of science where you are skilled following the “Teach what you know” advice in the article.

    Describe what materials your center needs.
    What is the focus of your center?
    These are young children; How will you engage them?
    What would the goals of your center be?
    How would you introduce the scientific process?
    Have you done anything like this already?
    How did it go?

  2. Dr. Gillespie,

    OK Now I found the assignment but I can not find “teach what you know” article. Where is it???

    Kerry

  3. Using the advice from the article and the “Teach what you know” section, my science center would be animals. Unit three in the kindergarten portion of the K-8 Science Scope and Sequence focuses on animals.

    The materials my science center would need definitely include a class pet. Instead of just having one pet throughout the year, I would have a rotation of pets. I would achieve this by borrowing pets from other students, teachers, even the pet store. This would allow the students to see how different animals live in their habitats. They would also get a lesson in how much effort is needed to take care of a pet. Other materials would include books, videos, different types of food animals eat, and access to the internet where students could see animals at the zoo up close.

    The focus of my center would be Animals. What are animals? What do animals need to live and thrive? My center would also focus on the characteristics of various animals, how animals respond to seasonal changes, the different physical parts to animals (i.e. wings, claws, etc.), how animals (and living things) resemble their parents, and the fact that nonliving things do not live and thrive.

    The most important thing is make the unit interesting for students especially younger ones. I would begin the lesson with a surprise. I would bring in a pet to get the unit started. I would explain that throughout the year, we will have “visitors” who will become part of the classroom. The books I chose would be engaging in order to keep the students attention. Other ways I would keep the students engaged would be with videos and plenty of hands-on activities.

    The goals of the center would be for students to learn the basic information about animals. Students will be able to list the needs of animals and know how they grow and change over time. Students will list the physical characteristics of various animals as well as what happens to animals during the seasons. Students will learn about hibernation and migration as well as nest building. Students will know that nonliving things do not live and thrive as do living things (i.e. animals, humans). Overall the goal of the center will be for the students to know the difference between nonliving and living things and tell how livings survive and thrive in the environment.

    The way I would introduce the scientific method is to first explain the process to my students. I would explain that the scientific process is the way scientists find answers to their questions. I would begin by asking the class if they had a question regarding the topic of animals. When the class agreed on a question, I would see if they have a guess as to what the answer was (follow that up with explaining this was an educated guess). I would then tell them we need to do an experiment to see if the class’ guess was correct. After we experiment, we would have to understand the data (results) and come to a conclusion. I would stress that this method can be used for any subject.

    Because I am not yet teaching, I have not done anything like this in the classroom. But I do believe this would be a great approach to teaching this unit. Of course it would have to be tested and most likely tweaked but I believe the students would get the most out of a unit designed around a science center. The article gives great tips on how to incorporate science into the classroom, especially preschool. I will definitely save the article for future reference.

  4. Laura March
    Edu 7136

    Planning is essential to both good lessons and science centers. As teachers it is our job to help our students construct new knowledge. Planning helps to gives us, as teachers a direction. We must know our goal s of the lesson or science center and the point at which our students are starting at. To plan well you must first determine the generalizations or concepts that you want to teach and how you will bridge (connect) your lessons. Teachers should create learns that interest and engage their students.
    Science centers are a great to use as a source of enrichment. A science center should be a place where children can work independently or cooperatively with a partner on activities. The center should be geared toward a common goal or standard. The center should be well organized with directions clearly posted.
    The “Teach What You Know” article pointed out that science centers do not need to be expensive or very complicated. Science is all around us. We should focus on topics that our students may have seen or heard about before but further explore them. The science center I would set up would be for kindergarten students and it would focus on plants. It would focus on Unit 1 for the Science Scope and Sequence. It would direct focus on LE 3.1b Observe and compare the different structures that enable plants to live and thrive (living things grow and change) and LE 4.2a Identify the needs of plants to live and thrive.
    The materials I would need would be a worksheet that contain the parts of a plant, sunflower seeds, brown shredded paper, pipe cleaners, construction paper, leaves, string, the book Jack and the Beanstalk, cups, soil, lima beans, graph/chart paper and coloring supplies.
    I would introduce the topic of plants to the class. My focus for both my lessons and center would be: What are the parts of the plants? What do plants need to survive, and identify the ways people use plants. As a class we would make a chart of everything that we already know about plants. I would ask the students to think about a question that they have about plants. We would take walk around the outside of the school and collect leaves (to later be used in our science center) and look to observe the many different plants in our neighborhood. We would later discuss our finding. We would talk a little about the plants that they have seen outside. We would compare and contrast the different types of plants (flowering/ non flowering).
    The first station at the center would be my more guided activity. It would be an activity sheet on the parts of the plant. Students would have to cut out and paste the parts of the plant correctly. Students also must label each part.
    The second station involves more student freedom. They would be given the following supplies: shredded brown paper (roots), pipe cleaners (stems), sunflower seeds, leaves and petals made out of construction paper. The students would first ask to think about a plant that they have seen before and then use the given supplies to create that plant.
    The third station (done with a partner) would involve students reading (listening to on tape) the book Jack and the Beanstalk. Then listing down the things needed for a plant to grow. What would be the best environment to grow plants?
    The fourth station (done with a partner) students would plant there own lima bean seeds in a cup with soil. The activity would go on for about 3-4 weeks. Students would observe and record the growth of their plants by drawing. Once a week students would measurement their plants using a string. At the end on the activity students would create a basic bar graph of the change in height of their plants (y axis would be height and x axis would be weeks). The graph could be as simple as taking the string pieces and pasting them on to a “pre-made” graph. As a class we would discuss the changes in height. We would talk about why some group’s plant grew more or less than others. I would ask students to predict what they thought would happen to the height of the plant next week based on their findings so far.
    The fifth station would focus on writing. It would involve students reflected and answering the following questions: What are all the thing we get from plants? What would the world be like without plants? Students would write down their thoughts and would then discuss there ideas with a partner.
    I believe a good science center is designed to meet students’ needs and ability level. It should try to involve the different disciplines, math, reading, writing etc. and also get the students to take part in the true scientific process of questioning, observing, recording data, reflecting and predicting. I have never taught science but I believe that this science center I have created hits upon all the necessary components of a center. The actual center would have to be well organized and arranged in an area of the classroom that would not interfere with other students. Good science centers get students to understand and take responsibility for their the learning and not simply memorize and recall information.

  5. The purpose of a classroom science center is a place where one to four students can do an activity independently working through the materials and directions found there. The focus of my science center would be “The Planet We Live On” with a question spotlighting the topic of the month. I could therefore include many topics under this heading that I already know about. The topics could include a lesson on geology, weather (including temperature), animals and plants. Each topic would change periodically to introduce a new lesson. For example, if my first topic was weather, my spotlight question would be “Do you notice any changes in our weather?” I would include several activities with respect to changes in weather.

    The center would include at least four of the following components: a computer component, listening (reading) component, a creative component, an exploration component, and an observation and data collection component. For example, at the computer component, students can explore weather words/pictures at enchantedlearning.com. At the listening (reading) component, students would listen to a topic-related book on tape. At the creative component, students can draw four types of weather they know. At the exploration component, students can handle different types of tools used to measure or experiment with weather, such as a wind vane, thermometers or a tornado simulation bottle. At the observation and data collection component, I would choose a window in the class where students can see the sky. Students look through the window each day. They would draw and write a description of what clouds they see, including color and number of clouds, and, if clouds are not dropping rain, students can predict if they think it will rain today. Observations and predictions are recorded on a “Cloud Observations” worksheet. In addition, students would read the current outdoor temperature from a thermometer placed on outside of the window and graph their finding on an ongoing worksheet titled “Temperature Changes”. All findings can be shared with the class at morning meetings; the idea being that students go to centers after they have unpacked giving the teacher time to check folders and homework, and then the morning meeting will take place. I think young students will be engaged at such a science center as young students enjoy using the computer and listening center equipment and also will like to engage the class with their finding during morning meeting.

    The best place for my science center would be near the window as my needs may change from observing clouds, to needing sunlight for plants, or observing changes in trees, etc. The science center would include a large board introducing the scientific process on one side and, on the other side, materials focusing on the current topic. Also, baskets for completed sheets will be made available.

    The goals of my science center are to have a “whole” science experience by learning the language of science, using the scientific process interactively, and learning about the tools used by scientists today.

    I have not done anything like this already, however, I have observed students using their classroom science centers.

  6. After reading the article I realized how easy it can be to set up science centers in my classroom. I always imagined that creating a science center would involve a lot of time and money. I was therefore relieved to find out that with just a little imagination science centers are easy to set up. Science is everywhere, and resources are easy to find if you just look around you. When thinking about science centers, I immediately think about when I was in kindergarten. Throughout the entire year we learned about different animals, and we always had a different pet in our classroom. Animals is definitely my area of interest and I would set up centers that would help kindergarten students understand the life process and needs of certain organisms.

    By the end of kindergarten, students are expected to learn many things about animals. They must understand the differences between animals, their need to live and thrive, their ability to grow and change, and their ability to produce offspring. For students to really understand all of this, they can’t just be told information. Students must have hands on experiences and partake in inquiry in order to truly learn. In order for students to understand all about animals, they must deal with all different kinds of animals. As a teacher, I would set up science stations which include different types of organisms. For example, one unit might focus on tadpoles, while another unity may focus on meal worms. Students will get an opportunity to encounter a number of different animals. The materials needed for this type of center is a tank/cage, food, and the organisms themselves. Other materials may include books, pictures, worksheets, etc.

    As a class, we would create a KWL chart in order to engage the students and look deep into their interests. Students will also be read a book about the animal and also get a chance to browse books. They will be continuously taking care of the animals and observing their changes throughout time. At the science station, students will also be given a picture of the animal they are studying and be asked to label the parts of that animal (fin, gills, etc).

    The focus of this learning center is for students to learn about animals. By observing and interacting with the different organisms, students will learn about their unique features, how they are different from one another, what they need to live and thrive, how they grow and change, and how they produce offspring. The students will learn these things by observing the organisms throughout time and interacting with them by feeding them for example. I would first engage these students by reading a book with a lot of pictures. I would then introduce the animals to the children. Having live animals in the classroom will surely fascinate them, especially since many children don’t have pets at home. The students will also be engaged with the idea that they get to take care of them. Students love to have this sort of responsibility.

    There are many goals of my learning center. My main goal is for students to understand the characteristics and needs of organisms. I hope this learning center helps them make predictions about other animals that they may not have come in contact with. I want my students to understand the life cycle and that all animals are different from one another in their own unique way. Students will also understand that all animals are like us in many ways. For example, both people and animals need food and a nurturing environment in order to thrive. And, just like animals, we too change and are able to produce offspring.

    I would introduce the scientific process by first introducing the organisms to the students. I may then pose a question to the class and also welcome questions from the students about the animals. One question may be, “What do animals need in order to survive?”. Students will learn to develop hypotheses from their questions. They will also learn to collect data, make predictions, and develop conclusions through their inquiry.

    I’m not a teacher yet so I haven’t gotten the chance to try out a science center on my own. I have, however, seen it done before. Like the article stresses, it’s very important to teach what you know. I started with animals because of the fact that that’s what I’m most familiar with. I believe that science centers can go very well as long as you take the time to plan and make use of the resources that are available.

  7. Kerry Wright EDU 7136
    Dr. Gillespie Reaction Paper III

    For my science center as suggested by the “Teach what you know” section of the article, I would choose plants as my focus of the center. I work with plants at home and in my classroom and I feel more comfortable with plants than animals. I am not an animal lover and I would be concerned that my feelings for animals would give a negative impression to my students. I have supplies to work with plants and I know where to update my supplies affordably.

    Below is a list of the supplies I would need for my center:
    Large lima beans
    Potting soil
    Plastic pots
    Pumpkins
    Plastic trays
    Small shovels
    Plastic gloves
    Water cans
    Several plants with different leaves
    Pictures of the parts of plants with labels
    Non-fiction books about plants and baskets
    Rulers
    Notebooks to record observations
    Pencils and crayons

    The focus of the center would be the life cycle of a plant from a seed to plant. The activities would cover the requirements of Science scope and sequence under grade 2 Unit 3 Plant diversity (LE3.lb; LE2.1a; LE2.2 a, b; LE4.1 a, b, c, d; LE1.1b; LE 1.2a; LE 5.1a, LE 5.2a). The goals of this center is to understand life cycle of a plant, identify plant parts and their functions, know what a plant needs to survive, and observe how the plants respond to environment changes such as how leaves change position to the direction of the sunlight and seasonal changes to plants.

    Young children are usually more interested in hands on type experiments than reading from text book. It has also been my experience that children love to draw and can learn the parts of a plant by observing and drawing. The first activity I would do with the children is the lima bean activity which is to have the soak the lima beans in water over night. Allow the students to dissect a lima bean (The pieces will easily come apart).
    Have the students draw the parts of the seed on drawing paper. The students should label the parts of the seed. This usually gets the interest of young children.

    The next activity would be for the students to get the seeds from the pumpkins and plant them in the plastic pots. This is an effective way to demonstrate the life cycle of a plant. After the plants germinate which usually does not take long, I could introduce the scientific process by having the students observe the plants in three different groups- one set of plants that gets water and light, the second group that gets light but no water and the third set that gets water and no sunlight. Through this process, the students will make a Hypothesis, make observations, collect data, and draw conclusions.

    The location of the science center should be near a window. I also need access to wall space in order to display plant pictures. The plant pictures will enforce the lessons. I would include non-fiction books in order to implement literacy skills into the lesson such as such listing facts found in the books. Math skills can also be incorporated into science to include measurement lessons where the students can measure the growth of the plants.

    The activities I listed above I have done in the classroom with my students over several years. I have found that I had the best success when I had the supplies in my classroom in the beginning of the year. This made the implementation of the little projects easier for me and productive for my students.

  8. I intend to create a science center for a 3 rd grade classroom based on unit 4 (plant and animals adaptations) of the K-8 science scope and sequence. The science center that I will create will focus on three scientific process skills: observation, classification, and hypothesis. I would make sure that goals of the science center would; encourage students to work in groups and independently, create a learning environment which would allow students to learn through self-discovery, exploration, hands-on activities as well as directions on how to conduct experiments.
    Materials I would use for the unit would include: worms, plants, rocks, magazines, glue, scissors, scavenger hunt worksheets (record collected information), plastic grocery bags, wet paper towel, bean seeds, books, magazines, science goggles and video clips on living things etc.
    In terms of students’ engagement, I would start the lesson by asking students to separate contents in their backpacks which may include items such as: pens, pencils, books, snacks and then classify items as either living or non-living. I know students are curious and they need to be challenged to find out new ideas. I would involve the students by going on a scavenger hunt on the schools’ playground. While on this scavenger hunt on the school playground I would ask the students to observe, collect, and classify living and non-living objects. This activity will allow students to explore and discover characteristics of living and non-living things; they would also be able to explain that living things grow and develop. After the scavenger hunt, we would return to class and I would place rocks, plants, and worms on a table, then I would have students gather around and brainstorm what they observe. In conclusion I would ask the students to make a class list of the similarities and differences between the items. Some questions which might prompt students to draw scientific conclusions may include: How are plants and animals alike? What makes something living? What makes something non-living? Which objects collected in the scavenger hunt were difficult to classify?
    The scientific method might be introduced to the students by asking them what do they think would happen to living things such as children and animals when they have no water or food? (Prediction) when students observe and record their findings on a scavenger hunt worksheets(interpreting data, gathering and organizing data) which are scientific method the students will be involved in but may not be aware of the implementation.
    Currently, although I am not teaching and have never done this before this assignment has made me consider how the scientific method is applicable to various disciplines and how students can master it through various science units.

  9. Based on the “Teach What You Know portion of the article, I would create a science center on animals which is Unit 3 in the Science Scope and Sequence Standards. Animals are always a subject area that catches young kids attention because they have had so many personal experiences with them in their young lives.

    My center would include many hands-on materials, fiction and non-fiction books, lots and lots of pictures, models, and last but not least a class pet which is a great idea and something the article suggested that I had never considered before with young students. The hands-on items could be anything from doing experiments with live insects such as the caterpillers that form a cacoon and turn into butterrflies within weeks, or mealworms. When I was in elementary school we even observed live crawfish in the classroom to see how they lived and adapted. These kind of experiments would require daily observations and predications which would be a great way to introduce the scientific process to young kids.

    As a class we could also build bird feeders and attach them to a window in the classroom in order to observe birds. By doing this we could observe and understand why birds have different characteristics than other animals we are familiar with (dogs, cats, fish, etc). I also think an important part of our animal science center would be the incorporation of the animals the students in the class have as pets. Maybe they could bring in pictures of their pets and those pictures could be hung up in the science center so students could visually compare and contrast the differences between their peers pets.

    I think that fiction and non-fiction books are both critical to a child’s understanding of a subject area, especially at the younger levels these books MUST have a lot of pictures because these kids may not know how to read yet). Therefore, there will be a variety of literature available in my science center related to all kinds of animals. I will also do many read-alouds which most young students love.

    Models of some common animals would also be included in the science center in order for my students to be able to touch and examine their features and characteristics. This would help them see the physical differences between mammals, birds, reptiles, etc. Using pictures or the models (figures or stuffed animals) classification games could be created to help students identify different groups of animals.

    As far as class pets are concerned, as the teacher I would be able to give responsibilities to students to take care of it and help them understand that these pets rely on us to feed and give it what it needs to survive (shelter, water, food, etc).

    The goals of the science center would be directly related to the Science Scope and Sequence Standards given to us in class. We would be concentrating on:

    1. Identify the basic needs of organisms to live and thrive.
    2. Observe and compare the different structures that enable each animal to live and thrive.
    3. Make clear that nonliving things do NOT live and thrive.
    4. Recognize that living things have offspring and that offspring closely resemble its parents.
    5. Observe physical animal characteristics that are influenced by changing environmental conditions.
    6. Observe that some animal behaviors are influenced by environmental conditions.

    Finally, the scientific process would be easily introduced through many of these stimulating ideas. By having live insect experiments students will be observing, predicting, and communicating to their peers daily, what they are seeing. There will also be many classification games and puzzles for students to work on both independently and with others in order to familiarize themselves with animals they have never seen before. Using both their real life experiences and the tools in the science center, they will be asked to critically think about the subject matter and the scientific process would be occurring unconsciously.

  10. After reading the article “Science in the Preschool Classroom” by Kati Gilson and Verneice Cherry I gave a lot of thought to the advice “Teach what you know”.
    I decided that the topic I would teach is “Rocks”.
    The material that I would use for my science center would be:
    Newspaper and Newspaper strips
    Red, Blue, Yellow, Black and White paint
    Different texture, size and colored rocks
    Paint Brushes
    Bowls of water
    Bowls of flour
    Collapsible beach ball
    Pencils
    Paper
    Magnifying glass
    The focus of my science center would be to have students observe, investigate, record, and discuss the different sizes, shapes and colors of the rocks as well as create a rock out of paper Mache.
    I would engage the students by reading a book Titled: Rocks by Alice K. Flanagan. This book talks about the different types of rocks and discusses how rocks are made and what can happen when the wind and water affect them.
    The goal of my science center would be to engage students in exploring and evaluating the differences between rocks.
    My scientific process would be introduced by holding a rock in my hand and modeling the skills of observation and recording for the activity. I would ask questions about the texture of the rocks. Are they smooth, polished, rough, cragged. What color are they? What size are they? Do they fit in your hand or are they tiny pebbles? Students would then be asked to observe and experiment with the different rocks using the bowls of water and magnifying glass. I would want them to record their observation on paper. Then I would divided the students into groups and have each group place pieces of paper Mache over the beach ball. This activity would take several days for the paper Mache to dry. Once the ball is covered and dry students will they discuss what color to paint the paper Mache rock. They will mix different colors together to create a color that matches the rocks that they observed.
    I have not done anything like this before and I am sure there is room for improvement. I believe that this science center will promote science literacy in kindergarten students.

  11. After reading this article I realized how important and engaging science centers could really be, especially for young children. When thinking about what science center I would set up I immediately reflected back to my elementary years and my experience with them. My center would be focused on the weather and seasons for a kindergarten classroom.

    The materials my centers would need to include would be a bulletin board display in which weather data may be recorded by using symbols. An example of this would be using pictures of the sun, rain, wind, snow, and clouds I would select a different student to record the weather on this board daily. I would explain that just as the weather changes daily, the bulletin board must be changed daily too. I would include seasonal objects to try on and categorize such as gloves, sandals, boots, a raincoat, a beach ball, sunglasses, an umbrella, a scarf, and a swimsuit. Some other materials would include an engaging book, crayons and construction paper.

    The focus on my centers would be on the observation and description of daily weather changes. Children will be able to see how people are affected by the weather and the four seasons during the different times of the year. What is the weather today? Why is it always changing? One of my centers would be instructing the children to draw a picture of themselves dressed appropriately for sunny weather and performing a warm-weather activity. Another center would include children drawing a picture of themselves dressed appropriately for cold weather and performing a cold-weather activity. The main focus of my centers would be how do people respond to seasonal changes? For example; different clothes, shoes and activities for every season.

    In order for me to engage my kindergarten students in this lesson on weather I would create an atmosphere of exploration and creative thinking. I would begin by introducing the book “Maisy’s Wonderful Weather Book” by Lucy Cousins. This is a great way to introduce different weather conditions and descriptive words to get the children comfortable talking about the subject. I would then engage the children in a discussion of ways in which the weather influences their lives. I would ask specific questions like what do you do when it gets cold outside? Do you do different things in winter than in summer? What do you do during a snowstorm or thunderstorm? I would then display the collection of seasonal items. Hold up each item and ask the children to identify it. I would then ask the children to help categorize the items into different groups. Put all the items used on warm, sunny days in one group. Put all the items used on a cold day in another.

    The goals of my centers would be to make students aware that weather is different in all parts of the world. Children as young as kindergarten don’t realize that just because it is snowing here in New York does not mean it is snowing in California or Florida. In order to make this more understandable to my students I would bring in newspaper clippings or show them on the computer the differences in the weather across the United States. My overall goal of the centers would be for students to recognize the symbol of a sun means it is hot outside, when someone is wearing mittens means it is cold outside.

    The way I would introduce the scientific process to my students is to explain it the simplest way possible. I would tell my class this is the way teachers and students try to find the answers the best they could to their questions. We would then use the seasonal objects to get a better idea about which item goes best with which season. I would then have a discussion with my students and ask if they have any questions about the weather or anything related to the seasons. By doing this, the children will learn how to make predictions, collect data, and draw conclusions based on their questions.

    I have not this approach in my classroom because I have not started teaching yet. Though when I was student teaching two hours out of the day were dedicated to centers and the children loved it. I think centers would be a great way to learn; especially for children as young as kindergarten. This approach gives a visual as well as physical explanation of the weather and the seasons.

  12. Play-dough!

    I think for young kids especially it is important to have them work with things that they know. Most kids at one point or another have played with play dough and do not realize that there is a science behind making it. Perhaps for that reason, I would give them the materials to make play-dough (uncooked) in groups. Firstly, I would present them with the unmixed materials (flour, water, oil, bowls, cups & spoons, and various food colors). I would ask them: what can you make out of these materials? I would let them play around with the materials which they would eventually have to mix and hopefully make any color play dough out of. I would encourage them to create their very own mixture; that is, I would not give them a set recipe and I would ask them to jot down how much of each ingredient they used so that each group can develop their own recipe. I would then create mini centers of each recipe and the students could go around to see how each recipe feels and looks. For example, for a group that added more flour the play dough may appear drier, be hard or have cracks. I would then have each of the students write in their journal about what they saw with each recipe and their feelings as to why each mixture of playdough was the way it was.

    I think by doing this the students are fully engaged, without much facilitation on my behalf. They are given the materials and then they are to cooperate to find ways that they can use the materials given to them. This activity exposes students to how different ingredients react with one another. The main goal here would be for the students to understand mixtures, and that even though we use the same materials, the consistency could depend on how much of something we use. I have not done any activity like this before in a classroom, however if I were to teach science in an elementary school, I think I would try this activity. The students get to work with one another, carry discussions as well as make note of their observations, what they feel and see. I thought of this activity simply because play dough is so simple to make and most kids love it. I also think the children can dye it any color they like and take some pride in something that they themselves created.

    Ingredients students would need:

    FLOUR; SALT; WATER; OIL; CREAM OF TARTAR; VARIOUS FOOD COLORS; BOWLS; MIXING UTENSILS

  13. **Choose and arena of science where you are skilled following the “Teach what you know” advice in the article.**

    I have chosen the “lima bean activity” as the focus of my science center. I remember doing this activity in kindergarten and once again in 6th grade as a science fair project. Photosynthesis was also a heavily discussed topic in my middle school classes, so I feel that I am teaching what I know.

    **Describe what materials your center needs.**

    My center would need:

    …to grow the plants: lima beans, potting soil, hoes, clear plastic cups, plant pots, watering cans .

    …to manipulate the plant’s growth: water, other liquids (juice, soda, etc), egg shells, banana peels , colored cellophane, a box, a florescent light and a spot with adequate sunlight.

    …to record observations: pencils, poster board, markers, ruler, camera.

    …additional media to supplement activity:

    “One Bean,” by Anne Rockwell
    “Jack and the Beanstalk,” by Steven Kellogg
    “Eating the Sun,” by Oliver Morton

    **What is the focus of your center?**

    The focus of my center would be to help my students understand a plant’s growth cycle and how it uses photosynthesis to convert sunlight into food. Through experimentation, students will be able to determine what factors help a plant thrive and which factors slow or stop plant growth altogether.

    **These are young children; How will you engage them?**

    I believe the literature listed above would spark an interest in the
    children and encourage them to try the experiment.

    As a young child, I remember being excited when our teacher announced we would be decorating the clear plastic cups and naming our plants. This gave each student a sense of ownership and pride over their project. My classmates and I wanted to succeed in growing our plants because they were “ours.” This customization would connect the child closer to the project.

    I would also give each child an additional planting, so they child could experiment with other factors (water in one cup, juice in the other). This sense of control and experimentation would engage the students as well.

    Also since most children are very visual, I would encourage drawings and photos of what they see.

    ** What would the goals of your center be?**

    The goal of my center would be to have the students aware of the plant’s life cycle and how it converts sunlight to food, as previously mentioned. Additionally, I would like the students could experiment with other “treatments” not offered at the science center. For example, they could bring another liquid substance from home and observe the results.

    **How would you introduce the scientific process?**

    With the students’ help, we would create an overarching question for the project, such as “How Do Plants Grow?”

    We would read books and watch tv/movies for our background research.

    I would have each student construct a hypothesis on their desired set-up. For example: “I think the plant will grow faster with blue cellophane over it than white.”

    The students would be able to test their hypothesis over a few weeks, taking measurements and pictures along the way.

    The students could create simple charts to reflect their data and ask what conclusions they’ve made.

    ** Have you done anything like this already?**

    I did a similar project in kindergarten. In 6th grade, my science fair project was to determine if color affected the way plants grew (using cellophane).

    ** How did it go?**

    This project is almost always successful because the children can clearly see what works for the plants and what doesn’t. When the plants in the sunlight are thriving as compared to the plants in the dark, the students can connect photosynthesis (or a very watered down version of it) to helping plants grow. Sun = taller plants.

  14. Having a science center in the classroom prove to the students, that science is very essential and they ought to learn the importance. It also helps students to work independently and collaboratively together to determine the outcome of an activity given.
    Following the advice from the article and the “Teach What You Know” section, my science center would focus on plants. Students love plants, as a matter of fact, they play with leaves and flowers everyday, therefore, this would be a good way to start.
    I would introduce this activity in a grade 2 classroom and the resources included in my science center would be:
    Clear tape
    Magnifier
    Several apples
    Transparency of how flowers reproduce
    Data sheets Flower Dissection and Parts of a Flower
    Complete flower eg. lily, tulip, gladiola
    The focus of the center would be to dissect flowers to discover where seeds originate. Some plants produce two kinds of flowers on the same plant. One may have only stamens and the other pistils. These are known as incomplete flowers. However, the flowers used for this activity will have both stamens and pistils and this is known as a complete flower. Which include flowers such as lily, gladiola and tulip.
    To engage the students in the activity, i would ask them if they know how seeds are produced. I would tell them that they are about to take a flower apart so they can see where seeds are formed. Data sheets, flowers, magnifiers and clear tape would then be distributed to the students, they would then have to follow the data sheets as they dissect the flower. However, before the students start their activity, i would do a demonstration first so they can grasp the instructions clearly.
    The goal of my center would be to explain the reproduction process by using the transparency ‘How Flowers Reproduce,’ I’ll make them be aware that bees are the best pollinators of flowers. When a bee goes to a flower to get nectar and pollen, some pollen drops off the bee’s body onto the sticky stigma on the pistil and that pollen can also be transferred to the stigma by wind and some birds and bats.
    Scientific process will be clearly introduced as it is the procedure through which scientist follow to come up with answers to their questions. And just for the students to clearly understand the process, i would also explain to them how fruits and vegetables are swollen ovaries of a blossom that grew on a plant. The apple would be my example, where i would show it to them and point out the left over blossom and stem on opposite ends. I would then cut the apple open to expose the seeds formed inside the ovary and let the students examine the seed.
    I have never taught before, neither have i done anything like this. Nevertheless, i know this is a very interesting topic and the students would enjoy it.

  15. In reflection of the article “Teach what you know”, the theme I would select for my classroom would be on animals, since I am a huge animal lover to begin with.
    I’ve always found it beneficial for children to learn and observe the life changes of any type of animals. From a simple ant farm to a class turtle or bunny, children need to be exposed from an early age as this will not only teach the class about the scientific fundamentals of animals, but in result this will cause the child to understand the proper way to take care of animals, and why the animals need the specific care and treatment that they do.

    The focus of my animal science center would be the class pet, a baby rabbit. Although it is common for classes to have pets like hamsters or turtles, I feel that a rabbit is not only larger in size, but more of a challenge for the children. It will make them learn at a different level. Most children will have a household pet already, typically a cat or a dog, so seeing a different animal in a different setting (at school), will introduce to them a whole new way of treating not only a different kind of animal, but that not all animals can walk around freely in a house, as rabbits are most often in cages.

    The materials needed for my center would consist of the necessities for a healthy lifestyle for rabbits : a large cage, water bottle, a food dish, bedding/litter, a small igloo-hideout area, and a few toys. And of course, a nameplate for the rabbit’s name, which would be decided by the class.

    I would plan to arrange certain times during the day to hold the following activities: observe the pet, feed the pet, and change the water in the bottle. I would choose either two or three days every week to allow students to hold the rabbit and play with it in a small, closed off area in the classroom so the rabbit wouldn’t run around the room. I would also create with the class, a large sign to be posted in the room of everyone’s name and day of the week that illustrates their responsibility with the pet. For every day, a different child will have the chance to learn about the bunny and the responsibilities for it by changing the water bottle (although that may be several times a day, different children can take turns doing that) or filling its feeder. This also relates to the inquiry based, “hands-on” theory, in that the children are not simply looking at this adorable furry creature in a cage, they are actually interacting with it, but most importantly participating in the welfare of its health and condition.

    The goals of this center would be:
    -to teach children about different kinds of animals.
    -for the children to observe this young bunny grow into an adult rabbit-where they will observe over a few months that what was once a small bunny, is now a larger rabbit that can’t fit into both palms of their hands anymore.
    -that not all animals are like the ones they see at home that are running around, that some animals live in enclosed spaces.
    -to teach children at a young age that animals, just like people, need important care and good treatment in order to live a long, happy life.
    -for children to learn the importance of caring for animals and what might result in a bad situation if we fail to do so.

    I would introduce this scientific process in a fun way. Before I would bring the animal into its new environment, I would inform the children about the upcoming new member of our class in hopes to already start them thinking about the type of animal, what it will look like in the classroom, how it will live with us, what will be needed of us to take care of it, etc. I would then introduce what animal it was by using books and pictures to help them see what the bunny will look like and what it will be like to take care of one.
    I would use the book and create an activity to make certain that the students understand at least the basics: what type of animal is this?; what different parts of the animal does what- the nose for breathing, the eyes for seeing, the paws for digging, etc.; how the animal changes over time-like how a rabbit’s fur changes in its appearance (color) and how the fur actually falls out (shedding).
    I would then create our ‘sign of assignments’ by delegating certain responsibilities to each child every day for them to have a chance at learning hands-on, and in result, giving them something to look forward to every day which will be enjoyable to them.

    I haven’t done anything like this yet, however during my observation last semester, I witnessed a kindergarten classroom which had a pet hamster that happened to have had babies in the cage. The teacher explained to me how it was beneficial for the students to see and understand the life cycle of a different animal as opposed to seeing the usual dogs to puppies and cats to kittens. This also taught the class about how fragile animals are when they are first born, just like humans are.

  16. Describe the materials your center needs.
    The arena of science that I chose was to create a plant center. Some of the materials I would need would be different seeds, books on plants, a variety of plants in and around the classroom, magnifying glasses, leaves from outside, plastic cups, soil, water, lima beans, rulers, some food coloring, and occasionally some fruit. I would prefer the plant center to be near the window with some board or window room to display the children’s discoveries and definitions.
    What is the focus of the center?
    The focus of the center is to create an inviting area where the children could go and experiment with plants. Through different activities I would like for the children to learn if plants are a living or non-living thing? What are the different parts of a seed? What are the different parts of a plant? What do plants need? What is a plant’s life cycle? I would like for them to experiment, observe, and record their information over a period of time there (until the center is switched to something else).
    These are young children. How would you engage them?
    I would try a variety of ways to engage the children. One of the ways is to create a KWL chart of all the things they already know and want to know about plants. I would like to take them around the neighborhood on a nature walk and have them observe the plants and trees around us. I would also like for them to do some hands on activities with seeds (opening it up), planting, and observing and recording their plants growing. The children would get to experiment with water (using color dyes) and experiment with sunlight or the lack of it. I would also, depending on the time of the year, like to take them on field trips apple or pumpkin picking. We would also get a variety of fruits and find the seeds in them.
    What would be your goals at the center?
    Some goals for the children would be to be able to open a seed and draw and label (with the help of their classmates) what they see inside. They would also get to plant a seed and observe it grow. Along with a magnifying glass if needed, keep a journal with their observations (depending on their age the journal could consist of writing or just pictures). The journal could also keep a record of their height by using a ruler. They could also draw and label the parts of a plant. At the center the children would also experiment with water and then with sunlight. In the water experiment, a color dye would be dropped into water and a white carnation would be placed in the water. The children would observe what happens. Another experiment would be placing a plant in sunlight and another in darkness and see what happens.
    How would you introduce the scientific process?
    I would introduce the scientific process during experimentation. I would probably ask the question. I would the let the students come up with a hypothesis and then experiment with the plant to test the hypothesis. After the have collect their data and come up with a conclusion they could share and discuss their results with each other.
    Have you done anything like this already? How did it go?
    I have done something similar with opening a lima bean and then planting one. However, I did not have them create a journal or try to go on a field trip to pick apples or pumpkins. As for the experiments, I usually would give all the materials, information, and they would just follow the steps and everyone would almost be guaranteed to come up with the same results. I would like for the children to be able to truly experiment on their own.

  17. Setting up science centers in a classroom is a good way to reinforce units that are being covered. It is very important that the centers are well planned out, maintained, have a purpose, and in an are that is big enough for the students to explore and discover. Every teacher should have a science center in their class because it helps develop an inquiry based learning environment, and may engage the students to become interested in the unit being discussed. I have never used something like this in my classroom because I do not teach science however, when I do start teaching science I plan to incorporate this way of discovery.
    If I was setting up a science center for my kindergartners, I would focus it on animal habitats. Since I love animals and have materials on this topic it would be very easy for me to create a science center on this concept. This center would have pictures of different habitats that show where an animal lives, eats, and gets water. The center would also included samples of fur, feathers, and any other materials that can show the structure of the animal. This would help the children to see and understand what animals need to live and thrive in their habitats. There would be worksheets for the children to check off, fill-in, and color with their findings. Lastly, I would include a picture book that would illustrate and explain what animals would need to survive it the wild.
    The goal of this center is for students to understand what living things need for survival. I would introduced this topic by asking the students if the ever went to the zoo, and what they saw if they did. Once they discussed with each other what they saw at the zoo, I would then allow them to go to the science center and explore the pictures and compare what they saw at the zoo to the picture in the box.

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