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My class of first and second graders is working through the scientific method. We have been doing several science experiences a week for the past four weeks. I love how they ‘get it’. Several of my teacher friends think I’m crazy for introducing this concept so early. Those are the same friends who also think I’m crazy for introducing multiplication facts at this level as well. Until the end of the year when they see my kiddos able to do multiplication facts zero through 10 without batting an eye.
You’d think they would learn.
I have found that by the time Science Fair is ‘required’, students are so burned out on school that they view this as a drudgery instead of something exciting like science should be. So I like getting to experience that excitement since my little ones are fascinated by cause and effect.
I start off by introducing five basic steps of the scientific method: Ask a question, State a hypothesis, Develop a materials list, Make a procedure and Draw a conclusion.
We do about two experiments a week. Some give us instantaneous results while others we must wait for a period of time before we are able to draw our conclusion. This is important for my kids to understand so they don’t think that everything is going to happen immediately.
For each activity I walk the kids through the five steps above. It took about three experiments for them all to memorize the steps. After they all felt comfortable with the steps I was able to add in the steps of predicting what would happen, writing down our observations and developing graphs based on our observations. You’d be amazed how quickly they pick up on what is being asked of them.
The activities we have done so far include growing lima beans in an ecosystem, observing fire in a vacuum, different lengths of arms on a catapult, cleaning pennies, making a ‘rubber’ egg, comparing bars of soap in the microwave, making predictions about the insides of three different kinds of pumpkins and our latest, observing pumpkin decomposition. Our activities align with our weekly science themes. We have been able to develop bar graphs, line graphs, Venn diagrams, pictographs and simple pie graphs based on data gathered from our experiments.
The kids LOVE these activities.
I write everything down in our classroom science journal. I have gotten to where I am able to just show the kids a few supplies and they can come up with the question, hypothesis, predictions, materials list and procedure on their own. We complete the experiment together and after the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ the kids complete the project with observations and drawing a conclusion. We then move on to graphing our data. It’s really great to watch. I always have to remind the kids though that they don’t need to run home and pull stuff out of their grown up’s kitchen and do ANY experiments on their own. Part of science is safety and they must have a grown up with them at all times.
How do you implement science in your younger elementary classrooms?