October 26, 2021 | Ms. Jonker
In three separate, 4/5 combined cohorts, students are learning about the scientific method and properties of materials. In order to learn the many concepts associated with those things, we are using this learning cycle process: Exploration, Concept Development, Application.
We’re doing this on micro and macro levels. On a macro level, we are having the students explore and define concepts (e.g. solubility) in a very teacher-guided way for three weeks before allowing them to create their own experiments about those concepts. We are currently in week 3 of these teacher-guided classes. Starting next week, students will apply their learning in a project that they have a lot of choice about.
We are doing the learning cycle (explore, develop concepts, apply) on a micro level too, because students currently do it on a weekly basis. Below I’ve described how we’ve going through this process each of the past 3 weeks. Interspersed are some quotes from students about STEAM.
In our first experiment, students explored how M&Ms interacted with water. Later that week they developed concepts by researching vocabulary like “solution” and “variable.” In their follow-up experiment, they applied their learning and did an experiment seeking to answer this question: “Do some M&Ms dissolve faster than others?”
Spoiler alert: The mystery liquid was water. A few of us thought it was saltwater at first and had to re-test some things!
Ms Buckley taught us a lesson last week about how to draw our observations well! It was a great lesson and students were very engaged. They enjoyed looking at a water droplet up close on the screen.
In this third week, students have been observing properties of materials. The have been sorting materials according to properties/rules like “Is it buoyant?” and “Does it dissolve in water?” They will research these properties more this week and then conduct a follow up engineering project that requires them to think about physical properties: “What makes a successful grocery bag?”
Starting next week, students will begin their own experiments. This will be a chance for them to apply their new understanding of scientific method and properties of materials in a new context. Students will write their own scientific questions to experiment about. We can’t wait to see the questions and experiments they come up with!