As I prepare to go back to school, after a year hiatus, I have been re-doing a lot of my units. One of the subjects I am focusing the most on is my science. This year My science units cover Animal Habitats, Weather, and Light and Sound. All very big units, so it’s been quite a bit of work. As part of my Hack the Classroom initiative, I am trying to create units that are more hands-on and inquiry based. It hasn’t been easy but I have found some great resources to help.
One of the great things about Education is that sharing resources is so embedded into our genes. So I thought I would share some of the great science resources I have found. I will try to give credit where it is due. However, some of the resources are ones I have had for awhile so please forgive me if I have missed some!
Paper Airplane Lab
I always start the year with a couple of general and fun science units. This helps us ease into the science year and helps with demonstrating the proper methods and behaviours of scientists, who often have to collaborate and work within groups to get things accomplished. I usually start with a unit on Oobleck (the unit from Great Expectations for Math and Science have a fabulous unit which you can get from here!). However, a few days ago, I discovered this great Paper Airplane lab which would go very nicely as a follow-up with the Oobleck unit. The resource has all the procedures, pre-lab questions and follow-up questions you need to give students a fun way to discover and experience the scientific method. Also a good way to begin practicing group work behaviours! From www.STEMmom.org.
Download: Flying Airplane
I found tons of great resources for my Animal Habitats and Communities unit. This is one that makes creating an animal report really straight forward. While some students may have had experience in writing reports in earlier grades, I often find that coming into Grade 4, that student have not done a whole lot of it and it can be a struggle. This resource is nicely laid out and easy to use. It provides some great scaffolding for those students who find it difficult in organizing their thoughts and knowing what to write. Created by Laura Martinez.
Download the AnimalWritingReportOutline
School Yard Habitats
This next resource, by PBLU.org is a great way to jump right into building inquiry into your school year. In the Schoolyard Habitat Project students become engaged learners as they research, design and implement a plan to enhance their school campus by creating insect habitats, providing nesting sites for birds, planting native plants or even removing weeds and invasive plants from the school grounds. Habitat enhancement efforts do not need to be elaborate in design with expensive price tags in order to provide meaningful, tangible results for the students. This project emphasizes simple, low or no-cost student-led actions to make a difference in their community, their school. This is definitely something I ma going to be doing for my unit on Animal Habitats and Communities.
Build An Astronaut Base
Cool resource which doubles as a group project emphasizing working together as a team. Also comes with rubric and recording page. Students use gumdrops and popsicle sticks. My kids did it last year and loved it though it was interesting to see the groups that had difficulty. The gumdrops gave it some heft but too much fiddling made it difficult for the sticks to stay standing up without drooping over. I loved how it was based in a scenario that the kids could understand and it made them really think about to build something taking into consideration a variety of factors. Lots of great conversation and of course, the kids loved the little competition at the end. It was really nice to find as we were doing both building and space as units that year.
Download Astronaut Base lesson
Download Build a base rubric
Download Student worksheet
A fun project courtesy of NASA. We did this as part of our space unit to take a break from some of the heavier aspects of the unit. The kids loved building and decorating their lander. It’s fairly easy to put together. The tricky part is getting the balloon in there so that it’s snug but not so stuck that you can’t blow it up. For extra fun, we took the landers to the second floor of the school and tossed them out the window! Of course, we used them to talk about the missions to Mars and the types of vehicles that they might need as people begin to explore other planets. It was a very fun activity. NASA has lots of fun things. The only problem I find with them is that the site is so huge and has so many subsidiaries with their own sites and activities, that it can be difficult to find everything. So when you do find something, you grab it and hand on to it!