Scientists at play

Science In SchoolThere is a nice piece on science skills as a focus of an activity as opposed to having the content be the focus of an activity.

For the EDU 7136 students I would like you to read this article here.

Reflect on your classroom activity where you performed some of the skills that you will be focusing on in your classroom. Please give me some feedback on how this activity worked for you. What came easily, what was difficult, where do you think your students will have the most difficulty.

Pick one of the experiments from the article above and write out what skills would be explored in such an activity. How could you improve on the activity. How could you make it your own?

16 thoughts on “Scientists at play

  1. Laura March
    Edu 7136

    In the activity we performed in class we had to make use of process skills. I must say that it honestly seemed easier than it actually was. I think that the classifying the objects into two different categories was the easiest part. Defining the operation and measuring the objects was harder. Especially arranging the objects on a scale, that was the hardest. Our categories for classifying our objects were editable and non editable. Our operation was the time the object would take to dissolve in your mouth. While I guess this would work, I would never want to test it ( objects were a MnMs, a dried flower, a bracelet and a test tube). I also think that this would be something that students might struggle with. It is easy to come up with a way to measure object but does it relate to the scale you want to create? Would you want to or be able to test it out? This activity really made me understand what students may feel like and at times how activities from the teacher’s point of view ay seem simple but to the students they made be difficult and even frustrating. We as teachers have to put ourselves in our students’ shoes and anticipate difficulties that they may have. The classroom activity really made me understand and better prepared me to deal with the questions students may have during classroom activities.
    The article Scientist at Play: Teaching Science Process Skills focused on the concept that learning process skills (observation, classification, measurement, communication, inference, prediction and experimentation) are essential to creating both an understanding of and a positive attitude towards science. To be successful in science, labs do not always need to be focused on a particular science content concept. Labs and experiments should drive students to learn and use the process skills. In other words science experiments do not have to be these cookie cutter labs as proposed by textbooks which require particular materials and an exact procedure. We as teachers should think out of the box and get students to explore the environment around them. We need students to see the science in everyday life and be able to apply the science process skills to various situations. The articles stresses and I agree with the idea that the whole point of learning and teaching is to get students to apply the process skills to real life situations. Teaching students to think critically, to communicate and make inferences from the available data is not only limited to the content area of science.
    One activity that the article spoke of was operating machines. The attribute block machine activity is suitable for grades 2-3 and variations of it can be applied to older grades. The idea of the activity is that blocks that are different colors, shapes and sizes pass through a machine. When they come out of the other side of the machine one or two of the block’s original attributes (shape, color and thickness) are changed. I liked this activity because students get to communicate with each other, hypothesize on the transformation and experiment to decipher the pattern. I also favored this particular activity because the attribute blocks were Italian. I went to Italy last summer an observed in some Italian schools (Reggio Emilia). I truly believe the Italians are in the forefront of education. They focus on the child understanding and doing so through hands on activities and group work. Students are assessed more by observations and feedback rather than test scores. The students’ interests and questions drive their education. This is the ideal learning situation. In the US we seem to be focused on the end product rather than the process. I would make this activity my own by using both shapes and numbers going through the transformer box. For the numbers, students would have to figure out what operation the number that went through the box had undergone. For the shapes, I would have the students measure the blocks before and after they went through the box. The students would record their observations. This is key so that they would have something to refer back to when making their prediction. I would have the students work in groups and the groups would take turn rotating from numbers to shapes. Students would have to work together and communicate both the results from the shapes and number transformations and what they thought the possible pattern was (make inferences). The group would have to agree on their final prediction. Eventually each group would have to come up with their own number or shape transformation and the class would have to guess the pattern. I would also discuss the idea of patterns and how they are all around us (ex: in weather, designs in clothing, etc.) and understanding patterns can help you make educated guesses or predictions of events to come.

  2. Scientific Skills Activity

    The activity we performed in class allowed us to apply the scientific skills with objects we brought from home. When we were told what we had to do, I thought it would be an easy task but there were some difficulties. My group members and I brought in four objects (a bracelet, a dried flower, a test tube, and a packet of M&Ms) and classified them as food and non-food. I feel this was the easiest part because we had one food item and the rest weren’t. For the measurement part, we came up with a system to measure our objects by using our thumb from the mid-thumb to our fingertip. This was a good idea because our textbook says that children should first learn to measure using their body parts (i.e. hands, feet, fingers, etc). I believe the hardest part of the activity was the communication section. At first my group graphed the results of the measurement before coming up with an operation. I believe if we had come up with the operation first, then we would have drawn the graph out right the first time (and we would have come up with a more fitting measurement-how long does the object take to dissolve). My group and I ended up doing two graphs-one measuring the actual length of the objects and one showing the rate of the object dissolving. During the activity, my group and I needed to communicate during each step. We all had to come to an agreement about how to classify the objects, how to measure them, and how to graph the measurements.

    After completing the activity, I realized how important understanding the scientific skills really is. I feel that after doing this activity, I better understand the scientific skills and what each skill entails. If I was doing an activity similar to this one with my students, I feel the communication part would be the hardest. Elementary school students may not fully understand graphing and defining an operation. They may also have a hard time with the measurement part if they haven’t been fully exposed to measuring object with body parts or other means (i.e. string, paper clips).

    Scientists at play: teaching science process skills

    The activity I chose was the sealed can activity suitable for grades 1-2. I believe this activity uses most of the scientific skills.

    Observing- This activity allow students to use their senses to gather data regarding the objects inside the can. Students are able to shake the can to hear what object(s) may be inside. This allows students to get a visual of the potential objects inside the can.

    Measuring- Students are able to measure the can and weigh it as well. Once they make a prediction and open the can, the students will be able to see the object(s) that were inside and measure those items as well.

    Communication- Students will have to communicate with their teammates to determine what objects they think are inside the can. They will also have to communicate and come to an agreement regarding their prediction. This communication is key to collaboration. Also students must communicate and record the data they gather as well as record their prediction.

    Inference- If students hear many sounds from the can, they may infer that there is more than one object. This will be the students attempt to interpret or explain what they have observed.

    Prediction- With the data collected from the previous stages, students can predict what object(s) are in the can. The more data they collect the more likely they are to make a confident prediction.

    As stated above, I believe this activity uses all but one of the scientific skills which is why I think this is a great activity. I believe this activity can be adjusted to fit every grade. If I could improve on this activity I would try to add an experimental part. That way all of the scientific skills would be addressed.

  3. Kerry Wright EDU 7136
    Dr. Gillespie Paper VI

    My activity was on the solid form of matter and I did the experiment with my class this past week. When I actually developed the lesson I changed some aspects from the original outline. The students used a balance scale to understand the difference in mass for four objects. The students made predictions about the order of objects from least mass to heaviest mass. Then, the students compare the objects on the balance scale. Instead of drawing pictures of what happen to the balance scale with the objects, I provided a work sheet to guide the students. The worksheet provided the students with a list of the objects to compare. This worksheet served as the data collection for their experiment.

    To my surprise the data collection was the hardest for the students. I thought the worksheet was easy to follow. However, as the class started the data collection, my brightest students could not record the information correctly. I had to give them guidance.
    Dr. Gillespie’s comment about data collection being the hardest part for students was evident in my classroom.

    I was also surprised that the students got the conclusion of the experiment easily. I thought the sequencing of the objects from least to greatest would be hard, but all the students wrote an accurate conclusion. I also noticed that making a prediction for the experiment came easily for the students. This skill has been difficult to develop in my reading instruction. However, for this hands-on activity the students developed predictions and compared them to the conclusion. In addition, some groups did get difference answers for the objects. I am not sure why this occurred since all groups and the same four objects. Overall, I found the use of a hands-on activity to introduce a science lesson as very effective for science and other cross curriculum subjects.

    From the article we read this week, I chose the experiment about children shaking a sealed can and guessing the objects inside. This experiment covers the following skills:
    • Observation –the students have to listen to the sounds in order to guess the objects.
    • Measurement – the students will weigh the can first.
    • Inference – the students will use the sounds they hear to guess the objects inside the can.
    • Prediction – the students will make predictions about the objects inside the can based on the sounds and weight.
    • Experimentation students will perform an experiment through listen and shaking.
    The experiment lacked any communication and classification skills. I would add a requirement to write about a paragraph about the results and process. I also would students to open the can and sort the objects inside into categories.
    I do think this is a great experiment because it can be adjusted to upper grades, it is fun for young children to do, and it demonstrates the importance of the sense of hearing.

  4. Last week’s activity which took place in our classroom I thought was rather interesting for me. I thought it was great to put all these methods we are learning about through our textbook and our class lectures into practice. The reason why I thought it was interesting however is because each of us brought very different objects to the class. Looking around, I saw vegetables, fruits, candy, blocks and other very different objects. I thought to myself, how could each table now sit and think of how to make something out of all of this? Once my group and I sat and put our items at the center of the table, I was even more uncertain of how all of this could come together. The easiest part was observing my item and writing what I observed about it- its color, shape etc. Classifying all the objects was also somewhat difficult as each item was nearly unrelated to the rest. This I thought was the most difficult part of the activity. On the other hand, communicating and coming up with a way to measure the objects came easy, at least for me. I think students may feel very differently than I did with this activity. If I were to give them the given objects (paper clip, block and slinky) they may also have a hard time classifying the objects, but I think it may have been most difficult for them to define an operation through communication. I would see myself doing an activity like this with students during their science class however. I think it is a great way to allow students to be spontaneous and communicate as well as rationalize with one another.
    While reading this week’s article, the activity with the cans seemed to stick out for me the most. I actually found this activity rather interesting as it pertained many of the scientific skills we spoke about last week. Firstly, it exhibited observation as the students explored the properties of the can. They were allowed to shake the can and listen to the sounds it makes. By doing this, they were also allowed to pick it up and feel its heaviness/mass. Secondly, this activity also possessed the measurement component of the skills as students were to weigh the can, but also they were allowed to pick it up which could also be considered measurement since the students will most likely begin to compare the weights of the different cans. This activity also has students inferring and predicting as they are given the chance to forecast what is in the cans based on what they heard, felt and weighed. Finally, experimentation also seems to be a part of this activity as most probably the kids will complete the aforementioned skills and then come to a conclusion to see if their hypothesis stemming from their inferences and predictions were true.
    The activity however seems to lack communication and classification in many aspects from the way it is described in the article. There is no mention of students communicating, defining operationally or recording. If I were to make this activity my own, I would include some type of communication skills for the students. I would have the students write the weight of each can, and a description of what they heard. I would then most likely have my students record their inferences and reasons for why they believe what is in the can for each can of objects. Finally, I would have my students in groups and allow them to talk about their observations, their measurements and their inferences/predictions. I would do this because sometimes, we may not all hear (or observe) the same things. Also by speaking about their inferences and predictions, the students may be able to better rationalize what is actually in each can. Once the students did this, I would have them look into each can, and see what is actually in there, which I would have them record this as well. After the experiment, I would have students journal their predictions, inferences and findings. Were they correct about what was in any of the cans? If so, what was the determining factor for that can, which made you believe it was filled with that particular item? Finally, to end the activity as a whole class we would classify the items of each can. We would probably choose the characteristic of material or weight of the objects in the can, as those were the determining factors of the whole activity. We would then create a chart on each can, of what it contained, words that students used to describe the sound it made in the can which they previously recorded, what it felt like when picking up the can, what its weight was etc. I think by adding communication and classification to this activity, we completely have the students engaged in all the skills we have spoken and read about last week.

  5. The learning activity that we were asked to perform in the class seemed very easy at first glance. However some of the scientific skills required were difficult. The observation skills were easy for me because it used our senses to describe our objects size, shape, color, sound, texture, taste, smell etc. Classifying all our objects became I little confusing because the worksheet said to (remove on object). Are group classified our objects as editable and non- editable. This was determined by the similarities and differences of our objects. The communication step was the hardest for me because I was thinking in terms of measuring the objects size not by measuring the object based on a defined operation. Are group decided that our operation for the class activity was the amount of time an object would take to dissolve in your month. The four objects were (dried flower, plastic bracelet, test tube, and M&M’s). If the objects were different I predict that the activity would work better. This activity can be tried again with other objects that can be used for experimentation. I believe students will have difficulty with the measurement and communication skills at first until they develop these sciencfic skills through practice.
    One experiment that stood out to me from the article “Science at Play: Teaching Science Process Skills” by Alfredo Tifi, Natale Natale, and Antonietta Lombardi was the content based activity of the sealed can. The sealed can experiment is for ages (6-8) grades 1-2. I computer software program is available for older students. The object of this experiment is to have students identified an object through experimentation: weigh it, listen to the sound and trying to guess the object in the sealed can.
    The skills involved in the sealed can experiment are observation skills: through experimentation of the sealed can students gather a description of the object. Classification skills enable students to compare similarities and differences among objects. This leads to exploration that uses classification skills. Measuring skills: can be that the students weigh the sealed can. Communication skills: They write down description of data they obtain from their observation and use this data to make an inference. Inferring skills: students interpret what they observed from experimenting with the sealed can. Predicting skills: based on observations and available data gathered student can make a prediction on what they think is in the sealed can.
    I would improve this activity by adding small holes to the top of the sealed can so that students could observe the smell of the object in the can. I would also have students write down observations that they find. Another possibility would be to have a box with two holes on each side covered with a piece of fabric so the students could also put their hand into the box and be able to use touch as another sense perception.

  6. In class Wednesday, we studied a group of objects and used scientific skills. I expected this activity to be relatively easy. To my surprise however, it was rather difficult. The objects we used were an orange, a ball, an onion, a magnet, a ruler, and a straw. Classifying the objects was rather simple, for we just separated them by round and rectangular. The measuring part is where our group got stuck. At first, we misunderstood how we were supposed to measure to objects. We ended up doing unnecessary work by computing the circumference and perimeter of all the objects. Eventually, we realized we were doing it wrong and began thinking about how these objects could be measured and what makes a particular object part of that category. We decided that an object is “round” if it can roll. But what about a water bottle? That too can roll but we wouldn’t put it in the same category as the orange, ball,and onion. We really had to further our thinking to come up with an operational definition and a measurement system that would work. Overall, my group and I were a bit confused with this activity. I think this was the case because it was our first time doing it. This made me realize that we should expect that our students might have some difficulty using scientific skills for the first time as well. It really takes practice to understand and apply these skills to different activities. As a teacher, I would give my students a lot of time for the first time doing an activity like this. I would also be sure to be a good facilitator by guiding my students anyway I can. I would also allow my students to also work in groups, for I believe working together, sharing ideas, and teaching one another is a great way to learn.

    The experiment I found most interesting from this article is the attribute block machine. This activity is suitable for grades 2-3, which is the grade I would like to teach. For this activity, students are given 48 blocks of various shapes and colors. One student is the transformer, whereas the other students are the investigators. The “machine” has a rule that changes one or two attributes of the block and the students have to guess what the rule is. This activity incorporates many scientific skills.

    Observing: Observing is probably the most used skill for this activity. The students will have to be attentive observers. They must pay close attention and write down what happens to each block as it passes through the “machine”. Without using observation, it will be impossible for the students to figure out the rule.

    Classification: Students will need the ability to classify in order to partake in this activity especially since some rule may include 2 attributes being changed. In this activity, blocks are classified by colors, shapes, etc., and student must be aware of this.

    Communication: The students are working together as a group and will clearly be communication with one another. They must work together to develop hypothesis and test them out.

    Inference/Prediction- The students/investigators will constantly be predicting the outcome of the blocks based on their hypothesis and what they think the rule is. They should predict that some blocks will change according to the rule and other blocks will remain the same.

    Experimenting: Students will be experimenting in this activity in order find out the rule. They will be conducting a number of trials and trying out different blocks as they try to prove their hypothesis.

    I could make this experiment my own and improve it by doing a number of things. I would firstly make sure that students are in small groups so that they all get a chance to share their thoughts. I would also allow them to take turns being the investigator and the machine. Being the virtual machine is an important job for one has to remember the rule and which blocks need to be changed and to what they need to be changed too. Being the investigator is also important because you must create hypothesis and test them. In my opinion, it’s extremely vital for students to get the opportunity to have both jobs. I would also follow this activity with a lesson on number rules. For example, if the number 4 went into the machine, and the number 12 came out, what would be the rule? The rule here would be to +8. It’s important for students to understand addition and subtraction in this context. Students could apply what they learned from the block activity to the number lesson. Doing activities such as these that utilize scientific skills could help students solve problems in any subject area.

  7. In our classroom activity, we performed some of the process skills that are focused on in the science classroom (i.e., observation, classification, measurement, and communication). We had four objects: a test tube, M&Ms, a dried flower, and a rubber bracelet. At first glance (observation), these items had absolutely nothing in common in which to classify them. However, we did know this… M&Ms are edible, and animals and humans can eat some types of flowers. In the end, we classified as edible and non-edible items. Measurement, however, is where we got caught up in our own definitions of measurements. We were thinking of measurements in terms of lengths and widths instead of in terms of time and scope (in this case, decomposition) and measured the objects by using our thumbs. We had a fairly easy time of defining an operation. Can the object dissolve in your mouth? However, as I mentioned, our system of measurement did not apply to the objects with respect to “can it dissolve in your mouth”. Once this was understood, we would measure via “how long would it take to dissolve” and a whole investigation appeared seemingly out of nowhere. This activity helped to better understand a systematic approach to measurement in different situations. I think that some students may have difficulty classifying objects according to their common properties if they do not see an immediate connection. This may make some students uncomfortable and nervous that they are not “doing this right”.

    I think that students can be challenged with creating a system of measurement as we were. Interestingly though, for some of the laboratory experiments described in the Science at Play article, the students were already given the task with which they were to measure and observe. For example, the fourth grade ‘dice-in-a-box’ game rules are: students must toss the dice in the box, guess how many of the faces have which color, and draw an unfolded, two-dimensional model of the dice. This demonstrates to the children that scientists need to design models when they are unable to directly examine real objects. The “dice-in-a-box” goes further to say, “we tell students that the earth’s core is just a model that was drawn from studies of how seismic waves are reflected at a certain depth, from which the existence of a discontinuity was deduced.” This was a good experiment in that students had to infer based on what they observed what was the color pattern of the dice.

    Perhaps, however, it should have been the other way around. Science at Play could have told the students to design a model themselves to determine an object they cannot see as scientists need to design models when they are unable to directly examine real objects. The teacher could initially explain to the students what scientists have come up with to model the earth‘s core. The students would then design a model and test their hypothesis to see if it works. I believe that having the students design the model themselves would use process skills that are used by scientists when they do their own research. Children are very imaginative and, with some raw materials, I am sure they could come up with some ring dingers! In an activity such as this, they would formulate their own questions and hypotheses, collect and interpret their own data, control variables, make predictions and communicate information. They could then switch places and try out the models created by other student groups. In this way, the students would be using more of the process skills that are fundamental to science than the “dice in the box” experiment described above.

  8. For the activity from Wednesday’s class, for the most part I found it to be an easy assignment. Specifically the first half of the procedure, which contained basic tasks. First, listing the characteristics of our own objects and then classifying them into different groups. The challenging part came afterwards as our group actually did more work than what was asked. Our group became a little confused with measuring the objects. We actually calculated the mathematical specifications of each object. The objects our group had were: an orange, a ball, a rectangular magnet, a ruler, an onion and a straw. We had actually measured the circumference of the round objects, and the area dimensions of the rectangular objects. This was unnecessary as we were actually only supposed to describe the differences between the items in regards to what makes them different, what physical qualities do they have that places them in the ‘round’ category or ‘rectangular’ category. In general, I feel that this wasn’t the easiest assignment, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly difficult either. It was average in difficulty. Our group became confused with what the questions asked, and we actually took it a step further, which perhaps can be looked at in a good way, as we did extra work, and thought ahead. That is something I would appreciate from my class, if the students, instead of giving up when not understanding a concept or question, tried the task anyways, and tried to aim further than the other groups. Depending on the class itself, and each student’s abilities and learning progress, in general, I feel that my students would have the most difficulty if I were to teach them a lesson from the textbook, and give them an activity where they were not familiar with the tasks or the subject matter. I feel that I should always relate the assignment and lesson as closely as possible, until the class is capable of doing work that is more challenging and more abstract, where they will have to make the connection between the lesson and the tasks. I think another area where the class might have trouble, is with questions similar to where our group became confused. Sometimes, a question will ask a simple task, and the students can interpret it a different way. Our group was advised by the professor, and we were able to complete the task successfully. A major part of successful teaching, I feel, is when the teacher is facilitating the thinking process of his or her students. If my students were to have trouble on a specific question, I would be there, not to give them clues on how to get the answer, but place them back on the right track, so they can develop their answers and theories on their own.

    The experiment I have selected from this article is the “dice-in-a-box” game, which is recommended for Grade 4. I chose this activity as it stands out from the other experiments. This activity forces the students to use their thinking and analytical skills more so than the others. This activity also strengthens the prediction abilities of the class, as they will have to predict how many of the dice faces have color.
    Observation: this activity enables students to observe a different kind of experiment by using colored dice. Most children will play with a pair of dice in a game, and dice come in a standard format, usually white in color, with patterned dots on its sides to represent how many dots there are on each. In this experiment, the dice have different colored faces and the children are observing them through a translucent glass, which only allows the students to see one side of each dice. This is enabling the students to think about the differences in these dice as compared to those they see in a board game, and how these dice are used differently, in an actual experiment, as compared to only being used in games.
    Communication: the students will be able to communicate with each other and the teacher, as to which dice will have which color, and to see how many dice have the same color when the class throws them into the box. Communication here is a strong point because it allows for discussion between the students themselves and the teacher. This is also beneficial as the students will be able to gather opinions and ideas from their fellow classmates and record each other’s predictions as to which colors will be more dominant in the dice experiment.
    Experimenting: the students will have an enjoyable experiment with this activity in that they will observe the different colored dice, and then throw the dice in a box. The dice will land in a random manner, which can cause all types of colors to be revealed. However, depending on how many dice is being used, there will most likely be a dominant color. The next part will be to draw a model of a dice cube, to teach the students that in many cases, scientists need a physical model of an object to thoroughly and successfully conduct an investigation. It is not all the time that scientists will have the ability to directly examine the actual objects themselves, therefore they must create a similar example of the item, so it can make the investigation easier.
    Inference/Prediction: this is the main theme of the dice-in-a-box game. After the class observes the dice with their different colored faces, and after the experiment itself, they will have to predict or guess which dice have which color and which colors will come up the most.

    From reading and gathering information from the above mentioned experiment, I feel that it is a good lesson because students will observe a different type of activity, one in which uses a lot of prediction and is fun for the class at the same time. In this lesson, some ways I would like to improve it would be the beginning of the activity. I would first start with an open activity plan so I can introduce the class to the theme of this experiment. I would also be sure to form the class into small groups so that the communication skills are strengthened. I would provide the class with worksheets that contain empty spaces for their predictions and an area where the results will be. This way, the class remembers the experiment more as a lesson, and not just only as a fun game they played in science class.
    I also think that some mathematics concepts are involved with the activity as well. The concept of the probability factor is evident when the students will have to guess/predict which color is most probable to be dominant out of the total number of dice that is being thrown. For example, if there are 10 dice being thrown, how probable is it that 5 dice will all land face up with the color green? This, I feel, is an important attribute as it includes another major category in their curriculum, which is math.

  9. During the class activity, we had to use some of the basic scientific process skills. As a group we thought that answering the questions would be a piece of cake, but little did we know the skills would be tougher than expected. The object that I brought in was a gray NY Yankees baseball cap. The observation section was really easy and straight forward. I observed that the cap was light weight, gray, made of cotton, and was soft. Classification was pretty easy as well. The other two objects included was a hair tie, and a shoe lace, so the system we used to classify the objects was things made of natural material. The next skill was the one that began our conflicts. We had a hard time figuring out the measurement for our system of classification. The reason why could have been a result of two things. Either we weren’t thinking outside the box, or the instructions were extremely confusing. After about 10 minutes of debating, we decided that our system of measurement would be soft to hard based on the material used. Due to the long debate my group had in the prior skill, the communication section was the last one we completed. We defined our operation as how squeezble the object was in our hand ( the fourth object we added was a wooden bead which is also a natural material).

    Before we started the class activity, I never would have thought I would have had so much confusion using the skills in the scientific method. This is something I was using for years beginning in the 1990’s and it is still proven to be just as important to students today. I firmly believe that without these basic scientific skills, students will miss the whole point of science. These skills should be emphasized while being taught and should be repeated whenever possible.

    I observed a 2nd grade science class this week and their lesson was on the scientific method. Each member of the class received a little foam dinosaur and submerged it in water. For an entire week, they observed its changes, documented what they saw, measured its size and weight, graphed the changes, and saw differences and similarities in their predictions from the beginning to the end of the lesson. This lesson was obviously not about the content, but on the basic scientific skills needed day in and day out. The activity was basic and fun at the same time and the students couldn’t wait to get to class each day to see how their dinosaur changed. I thought it was a great example and fit perfectily with what we discussed in class this past week.

    The article was fairly interesting also. The activity I chose was the one with the shaking of the can. I think this is an excellent experiment for young students and definitely gives them a chance to enhance their scientific skills.

    Observation: The students would obviously use all the senses possible to observe what was in the can even though they can’t see what’s inside.

    Classification: This is one skill that isn’t possible with the activity in the article. In my adaptation, I would give the students a couple of cans with different objects inside, so they can compare, contrast and classify the cans based on sound they hear.

    Measurement: Students can weigh the can as stated in the article.

    Communication: The students would communicate with classmates to try to figure out what is in the can. If I did decide to give them a couple of cans with different objects they could graph how much each can weighed and compare.

    Inference & Prediction: Students will then be able to make inferences and predictions based on their observations, classifications, measurements, and communication.

    As stated above, I think this is a great activity for young students trying to grasp the scientific method and the only thing I would change is add a variety of cans with different objects in each for them to observe which would add the classification component into the activity.

  10. Reflection on Classroom Activity

    The activity we performed in our classroom asked us to use 7 science process skills: observation, classification, measurement, communication, inference, prediction and experimentation.

    Initially, my table thought the activity would be fairly simple. However, our group ran into some trouble when we reached the “measurement” section. The worksheet asked us to “come up with a system to measure
    [our] objects” and our group took this very literally at first. We began measuring the circumference and area of the circular objects and the length/width of the rectangular objects.

    Only when the Professor came over did we realize we were making this far more complicated than it really was. When we realized we were coming up with a sort of “test” that would determine entrance into each group, we came up with:

    – rolls
    – roundish

    – 4 sides
    – doesn’t roll
    – 4 vertices

    I feel like if our group had completely understood “measurement” from the start, we could have created a less general system of measurement.

    If we had more time to work on the worksheet, our group would have liked to come up with a system of measurement for objects that are round or rectangular but don’t fit their group’s criteria for whatever reason.

    I believe students may have trouble with the “measurement” section as well, because the title may be misleading. When we think of “measurement” most of us automatically think of numbers.

    Article — Scientists at Play — Teaching

    Science Process skills

    I chose the “Shake a Sealed Can” activity catered for grades 1-2 (ages 6-8). The skills that would be explored in this activity would be:

    The students are observing the can’s weight, listening to the sounds it makes and how it reacts to tests (squeezing, flame-testing, x-ray, sonar, magnetism etc). The very premise of the activity is to observe the can’s characteristics and how it reacts to modifiers.

    Measurement, Experimentation
    The students are measuring the can’s weight in ounces and pounds, how loud or soft the items in the can are when it is shook, the strength of its magnetic pull (if any) and etc (dependent on what tests they simulate). This process of testing the can is inherently experimentation.

    The students can graph their measurements (weight, noise level) and compare it to other student’s cans. Students with similar cans can hypothesize together to determine if they share similar items.

    The students will use their observations and measurements to create educated guesses on the items they think are inside.

    I would improve on the activity by including objects that could be misleading but start a discussion. For example a feather would not add much weight to the can or make a loud sound, but it still exists inside the can. I would ask the students to come up with creative tests for these kinds of items.

    I could make it my own by allowing the students to come up with their own can and contents and have their peers try to guess what is inside. Or showing the students a sample of items I am choosing from but not allow them to see which items I put in. They can use the process of elimination to determine what is inside and what was left behind. (For example, they could have seen a horseshoe on the spread, but did not hear it when they shook the can.) It could also off-shoot and activity about where students can roll the cans. Which cans roll faster? The heavier ones? The lighter ones? The ones with more items? Less items? The students could makes predictions and test their guesses.

  11. In the activity we performed in class, we studied a group of objects which were an orange, a ball, an onion, a magnet, a ruler, and a straw and used scientific skills. At first the activity seemed fairly easy as we started out with our observation and classification. For our observation we stated the different types of objects and characterized them. For classification we separated the objects according to their shapes, which were round and rectangular. The task became a little complicated when we got to the measurement section. We misunderstood how we were supposed to measure the objects and ended up doing more work than what was asked. We calculated the circumference and perimeter of all the objects. However, we found out later that what we did was incorrect and all we had to do was to describe the objects and to come up with a reason as to what makes that particular object a part of each category. We then came up with the idea that an object, for example a “Ball” is round, can roll as far and long as it wants and have no edges. Hence my group was a bit confused with this activity; we definitely had to think excessively to come up with a system to measure our objects. Being a teacher of science, it made me realize that in introducing a task using scientific skills to my students for the first time, not much should be expected from them. Worst if the information was introduced from a text book and they will have to use hands on work for the very first time. It does take a lot of thinking and time to apply these skills to whatever activity is being taught. With that in mind, I will have my students working together in groups as students can share ideas and beliefs and learn from one another. I will also try my utmost best to work alongside my students and to make sure they comprehend whatever task is been given to them and also help them to be able to use their materials properly.

    The experiment i found interesting was the “dice-in-a-box” game, which is recommended for Grade 4 (ages 10-11). It is an experiment that encourages students to think critically using their prediction abilities, creative skills.

    Observation: This activity enables students to observe a colored dice. The students should observe the dice through a translucent window, where only one face of the dice is visible at all times and guess how many of the faces have which color. Observation is the key, because if there were no observation there wont be any experiment.

    Classification: Students could classify the dice, box and window according to their shapes and placed them in one or separate category. For example, the box and window has a rectangular shape while the dice has more like a cubical shape.

    Communication: The students will be able to communicate with each other and the teacher by having a discussion in guessing how many of the faces have which color. The discussion is beneficial as it helps the students to learn and to gather information and ideas from each other.

    Inference/Prediction: This is the main point in the game. In that after the students observe the colored dice and toss it in the box, they are to guess how many of the faces have similar color.

    Experimentation: Students will engage in this experiment by observing a colored dice, placed in a box with only one colored face visible, and then they will have to toss the dice and guess what color is showing in the box. The next part will be to draw an unfolded 2 dimension model of the dice, this further illustrate to the students, that in many cases, scientists have to draw models of objects when it is difficult for them to examine real objects in order to make their experiment easier and to get an end result.

    I believe this is a good experiment for students and they will have a lot of fun in their class discussion and in predicting their answers, as it helps these students to use their prediction abilities and creative skills. In guessing which face of the dice will have which color and then drawing a model. Hence this activity could be taught in a lesson on Predictions. I would teach my class this lesson, but first will place the students in groups so that they can get a chance to share their thoughts and to learn from each other. Introduce the experiment and materials to the class on the board as well as record all their predictions and any other discussions on the board as well. This I believe will help the students to remember the activity clearly and be able to recall the information at any time or to apply their prediction abilities in other subject areas in or outside of the classroom.

  12. The activity we did in class was a great way to allow us to use some of the skills we are trying to teach to our students. At first it seemed to be so easy. We had to observe our object and write down a description for it. Then we had to classify it with the other objects our group brought in. Our ideas were as basic as possible at first. It wasn’t until we had a little guidance from our teacher that we as a group started to think outside of the box. We came up with a classification and moved onto the measurement. Again I started off very basic, thinking only about length. Our group discussion allowed us to share ideas and we came up with a few ways to measure our objects. The last part was a little difficult. Coming up with an operation really makes you think. How do you test something you know? It was nice to work in a group and I enjoyed the activity.
    The activity I chose from the article was for grades 1 and 2 with the sealed cans.
    Observation – The students would need to use their five senses to try to guess what object or material is inside the sealed can. They can shake it to hear the sound it makes. To alter the activity to be able to use the other senses, the teacher could provide a blindfold and have students feel, smell, and even taste (if appropriate) the object and then try to guess what it is.
    Measurement – The students can measure the sealed can by weighing it on a scale. If it was feeling the object, they could measure it by texture (soft/hard, rough/smooth), length, shape, etc.
    Communication – The students can discuss what their observations are and share ideas of the possible things it could be. They would use their prior knowledge and experience to narrow down the ideas being presented. This would be an essential part since so many students are exposed to so many different things that they could learn from each other. They also can work on their verbal skills.
    Data – While the students are communicating they can be recording their findings. They could chart is and start to infer and predict what the object is.
    I really liked this activity. The students have full control and is really makes them think. I like that they can work together.

  13. The beginning our last week Wednesday’s activity seemed relatively easy especially during the classification process. We grouped the following objects; an orange, a ball, an onion, a magnet, a ruler, and a straw. We did a dichotomous classification using our variable as shape. The objects were either round or rectangular. When we reached to measuring the objects we could not decide what a unit of measurement was. We were not certain of how to measure the objects we decided to use the straw as a measuring devise. We calculated the circumference of the orange and perimeter of the other objects. Eventually, we realized we were doing it wrong and began thinking about how these objects could be measured and what was our thinking behind categorizing the objects. We realized that we were expected to describe the objects based on their physical attributes rather we concentrated on the mathematical attributes. We did quite a lot which was overwhelming at the time but in hindsight at least we thought further of other attributes that we deemed necessary.

    The assignment probed me to think about my instruction delivery and how it is important to tailor my lessons to the assigned tasks that I give students. Also, it made me be aware of how students might interpret information differently and of how I should be prepared to view things from different perspectives. It also made me realize of how questions can be tricky and not understood by students, this made think of how I should formulae questions and ask students various times if they understood or not. Our group discovered we were wrong when the professor checked in to se what we were doing. This was definitely an eye- opener of how the question may be simple but the students’ interpretation may differ dearly.
    I selected the “dice-in-a-box” game, which is recommended for Grade 4. I chose this activity because it seemed to be very informative and on point. The following skills were highlighted:
    Prediction/Inference: -the activity prompted students to think and analyze their work. Students were also asked to predict how many of the dice faces had color. They guessed which color would appear the most.
    Observation:- this activity enabled students to observe different kinds of experiments using colored dice. Children observed the dice through a translucent glass, which only allowed the students to see one side of each dice. It provided an opportunity for students to se various uses the dice can be used rather than games that they are used to.
    Communication: the students were able to speak among themselves and with the teacher. They build on their communication skills and also share their ides and opinions and get an opportunity to explore and discover their own learning.
    If I was to teach this lesson I would have a title for it and also provide directions as to what I want the students to observe. I may incorporate a math component on probability (when students toss the dice). I may also have them identify the shape of the dice and how many sides. I would also allow students to write a reflection on what they learned as aresult of the experiment.

  14. Last weeks lesson was an interesting hands-on activity. When we were told to bring in an object from home that we could do a lesson on I thought we were going to do some simple show and tell activity. I assumed we were going to have to explain why we brought our item in and how we would teach a lesson based on that object. When my group put the various items into the middle of the table we really did not see any similarities between any of the objects. The items my peers brought in included a magnet, a ruler, an orange, an onion and a straw. The observation part came easy for my group. All we had to do was write down a description of our objects such as size, shape, color and texture. When we got to the classification part we were a little confused why we had to take an object out but we decided to use that to our advantage and take the most unusual object out. We then decided to classify our objects by their shapes using rectangle vs. circle. We had a hard time figuring out what the measurement for our classified objects. One of my group members brought in a ruler so we thought all we had to do was measure all of our objects. We began measuring the circumference and area of the circular objects and the length and width of the rectangular objects. When the professor came over we realized we were doing it completely wrong and making this part a lot more difficult than it really was. Little did we know all we had to do was describe the objects and come up with a reason to why that object was classified in the rectangle or circular group. My group was unable to finish the class worksheet due to our length of time working on the measurement part. I think students may have the most difficulty with the measurement category because even as college students my group automatically thought to use a ruler and measure everything.

    The activity I chose was the sealed can activity for grades 1-2.

    Observing: This activity allows students to use their hearing sense in order to determine the loudness and pitch of the items in the can. This can enable them to visualize what size or shape the objects in the can may be based on how loud or soft the sound is.

    Measuring: The students can weigh the can using a scale or holding it in their hand to determine how much the items may weigh.

    Communication: The students can communicate their hypothesis about what may be in the can with their peers.

    Inference: The students can make inferences based on what they observed. If the students hear a soft noise they may infer that it is a small object in the can. If the students hear a lot of noise they may infer more than one object is in the can.

    Prediction: The students can make predictions of what may be in the can based on their observations, measurement and communication with their classmates.

    I think this activity is great for young children because it enables them to use their listening and thinking skills. Students love doing hands on activities that allows them to use their imagination. I would make this my own by having each student bring in an item and I will secretly make the choice of what goes in the can. Some students will assume their object is in the can but they will have to use their senses and scientific skills to figure out what items were used.
    I would improve on this activity by allowing the children to repeat the observation, classification and communication steps by feeling the objects in the can. Touching the objects allows the children to discover the texture, size and shape which will give them a much better idea of what may be in the can. The students can compare their results from the previous experiment and see if they change any of their answers.

  15. Last week’s activity was very interesting however; it was not an easy task. The fact that each of us had to bring in an object, and then try to find some similar characteristics to classify them was challenging. This is what science is all about, exploring, explaining, communicating, and elaborating on a topic that is right in front of you. The easiest part of the activity was communicating our ideas with one another, and the hardest part was trying to stop the communicating. If I taught a science class, I would definitely try this activity with my students. They would have a lot of fun with this activity.

    The experiment I would pick is the one for the first and second grade, “Shake a Sealed Can” activity. This activity demonstrates the following science skills: observation, measurement, communication, and inference/prediction.

    Observation: The students will shake the can and listen to the sounds it makes, and the feeling it creates from the weight of the objects inside.

    Measurement: The students will weigh the can using a scale, and measure the loudness and softness of the sound it produces when it is shaken.

    Communicate: The students will discuss their thoughts and ideas on what may be inside the can. They will list all of their ideas on a chart.

    Inference/Prediction: During this part of the activity the students will try to guess what is inside the can based on their observation, measurement, and communication with fellow group members. They will then decide as a group on what is in the can.

    To improve this activity I would bring in pictures of thing that could possibly be in the can they are shaking. This activity sounds like a lot of fun, and I am sure if I had my fifth graders did it they would enjoy it.

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