Scientific and Engineering Practices (SEP 1 t0 SEP8) Consolidated

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Images above are from: http://www.nap.edu/read/13165/chapter/7#50 

This post highlights the eight Scientific and Engineering Practices and spotlights a few lessons related to each practice. I had this as eight separate posts but decided to consolidate for easier viewing.

For more details and examples about the Science and Engineering Practices, visit NSTA.

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Atomic Model Timeline

 

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Image Source: Science with Mr. Enns

Materials:

This is a great explanation as well – he has tons of Chemistry videos which are geared more towards High School and College Students.

Rocks, Fossils, and the Law of Superposition Sequencing Activity

Objectives:

  • Sequence information using items which overlap specific sets
  • Relate sequencing to the Law of Superposition
  • Show how fossils can be used to give relative dates to rock layers.

Materials:

  • Fossils, Rocks, and the Law of Superposition Google Slides – this will walk you through the lesson step-by-step
  • Set of 8 cards for each groupsdownload from the UEN
    • additional lesson plan details on their site
    • print and cut apart the 8 cards for each part of the lesson
    • to set up the cards, use large 4×6 index cards and store in ziptop bags.
    • on one side of the index cards, glue on the nonsense letters
    • on the reverse side, glue on the fossil layers
      • laminate for durability
      • Replace the letters for each fossil layer, see my ppt for new random letters
        • spelling out the word “ORGANISM is way too easy for students to figure out and they will not really have a chance to work on the activity with the depth of thinking and problem solving that you want them to do
        • be sure to stagger cards so that the order of the cards is not the same, otherwise they will flip over the cards and have the answer for part 2
  • Notes HandoutLaw of Superposition Notes (pdf) students will take notes and record their answers on this handout.

Tips for this lesson:

This is a fantastic lesson and I have used it successfully with both 5th and 6th grade students. When introducing this lesson I use the analogy of a laundry hamper, or in most cases, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor in their bedroom. Today’s clothes would go on top of the pile, each day adding a layer of dirty clothes. The older clothes would be on the bottom of the pile, kind of like a timeline of what they wore this week. When that laundry is collected and moved to the laundry room, the layers would get disrupted. With rocks, the layers form on top of each other, and the older layers are on the bottom. We then brainstorm how those layers can be disrupted: earthquakes, tectonic plates moving, landslides, digging, etc…

For this activity, they have to figure out the pattern of how these layers are formed, and there are clues in each layer, they just need to know what to look for. For the nonsense letters, there is a pattern that connects all the layers together. Many will think it is alphabetical, but I tell them that it is not. Once they have worked on it a few minutes, I have them share their theories. Once each group has shared their theory, I give them the clue. And suddenly, the pattern is clear now that they know what to look for. Using the same strategy, they will then sequence the fossils on the reverse side of the index cards.

 

The Atoms Family

Materials:

  • Google Slide Presentation (Public) – a fun way to introduce the parts of the atom and how to determine the numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Get ready to do some singing and snapping🙂
  • Handoutsvia ScienceSpot.net

Vocabulary Bundle – Review Activities

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Google Drive Folder: I have all of my vocab sheets posted in one folder so they are easy to find and access. If I find or create any more vocab sheets, they will be included in this folder.

Below are some fun ways to incorporate vocabulary into your lesson plans:

  • Cut & Paste: Have students cut out the definitions and paste or tape them next to the correct word.
  • Flashcards: Students will cut out each vocab word and paste it to the front of an index card, then they will cut out and paste the correct definition on to the back of the index card.
  • Find Your Partner: Give half of the class a vocabulary word and the other half of the class a definition. They will look for their partner and record their answer. Have them come to you to pick up a new word and a new definition and find new partners.
  • Quiz, Quiz, Trade: Using the flashcards, give each student one vocab word. They will go around the room and quiz each other. After quizzing each other, they will trade flashcards and find a new partner.
  • Matching: Create a vocab set by laminating and cutting out the words and definitions. Place the words and definitions into a ziptop bag. Have each student or pair of students match the words with their definitions.
  • Go Fish: Using the matching set above you can play Go Fish. Deal out 3-5 cards per player (depending on the number of students and vocab words) and place the rest upside down in the center. Students will ask each other for a vocab word or a definition, if they don’t have it, they will say “Go Fish” and the student will pick a card from the pile. If they have a matching set, they will place it down. If not, they will add the card to their hand. The first person to place all their cards down wins.
  • Old Maid: Using the matching set above, you can remove one of the vocab words or definitions from the set. Students will deal out all the cards. Students will pick a card from the person to their right. If they have a matching set, they will set it down. The first person to place all their cards down, wins, the person left with the vocab word or definition without that doesn’t have a matching card is the “Old Maid”.
  • Dominoes: Using the matching set above, you can have 3-4 students shuffle the words and definitions and deal out to each student. Have one person start by placing a vocab word on the table. If the next person has the definition, have them place it on the table touching the vocab word. The next person will place a vocab word on the table touching the definition of the previous word, and so on until all the words and definitions are used. The first one to get rid of all their cards wins.  If a students doesn’t have a definition or new vocab word to put down, they will skip their turn.
  • Stations: You can set up stations around the room with different vocabulary activities and students can rotate through the stations.

To make any of these games more challenging, you can combine 2 or 3 related sets of vocab into the mix. If you have any other fun ways to review vocabulary, please add to the comment section below.

Note: If you are having trouble seeing the handouts in ‘preview mode’ and it seems to be stuck in the loading phase, click on the boxed arrow (pop-out button) on the top right to open the pdf and view the rest of the pages.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.47.20 PM.png

Ride the Rock Cycle – Comic Strip Adventure

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Materials:

  • Rock Cycle Comic Strip Lesson Plan (link – pdf) or ScienceSpot.net or NSTA
    • Note there is a typo with the numbering on the handout – it should be numbered 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 in case you want to make corrections prior to photocopying it
  • Laminated Station Cards
    • Stations as Google Slides – public
    • Rock Cycle Comic Stations (pdf)
    • For 2016-2017 I updated some of the stations to have more variety in the outcomes and introduce some higher level concepts for my 6th graders to lead into our unit on Plate Tectonics
  • Dice: 2-4 at each station
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils

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Tips for running the lesson:

  • Use this lesson after introducing the Rock Cycle to students.
  • Having 2-4 dice at each location allows multiple students to be at each station at the same time. In the past when I used the paper dice that come with the lesson, it took time for each student to write down the outcome from the dice. Having the outcomes on the station cards helps speed things up.
  • Set up stations around the room, depending on the number of students you have, you can make multiple stations for each one.
    • For example, for the Soil Station or the Earth’s Crust & Interior Station, you can have more than one of each to spread students out around the room. They get a lot of traffic.
  • If students get ‘stuck’ at a station, explain that they can be stuck in the Earth’s Interior for millions of years and their whole comic would be just that one station, but allow them to ‘roll out’ of a station if they are there for a 3rd time.
    • For example – A student will end up at the Soil Station and roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” and write that on their handout. Then they will roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” again, and write it down. If on the 3rd turn they roll “Rocks Break Down, Remain Here” have them roll again until they get something different. They may then get “Flooding Occurs, Go to River” and write that down and go to the River Station. They may end up back at the Soil Station on a later turn, but that is OK. They will visit some stations more than others.
  • Once students are done with their journey, check over their work and then have them start their comic strip. They might need some tips on how to draw certain geological processes.
  • I have used this lesson for many years and the students really enjoy making their comics and come away with a better understanding of how rocks change over time.

What is Mining? An introduction to Mining

Materials:

  • Google Slides (Public) – this presentation will outline what mining is, where it occurs, types of mines, what commodities are mined in the United States, and covers mining in New Jersey. Maps are from the CDC
  • What is mining?  (pdf) – this is a guided handout that students will take notes on as we discuss mining

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining Simulation

cookiemining
Cookie Mining – with an example of cookies used for the activity.

Materials:

This is one of my favorite activities from our minerals and mining unit. It takes about 1 whole class period to explain the activity, collect data, eat the cookie (& crumbs), and clean up. We discuss our results the next class and determine who made the most profit.

When determining the value of the chocolate ore, I have the students place their chocolate pieces close together in one area of the map. When they are done, I go around and circle the area of chocolate and give their chocolate a rating. They count the number of boxes their chocolate covers and enter it into their spreadsheet.

If there are crumbs attached to the chocolate, I call that ‘slag’ and it lowers the value of the chocolate ore. This leads to a great discussion afterwards when we compare the profits and talk about land use. Is it better to get out as much chocolate as you can, even if you get a lot of slag, or is it better to remove just the chocolate even though you will have less in the end? How is this similar to coal mining? Diamond mining?

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Students try different techniques to extract the chocolate.
cookiemining3
Cookie blasting – extracting as much chocolate as you can in 5 minutes.

 

Color Coding Families on the Periodic Table

This is a fun way to introduce the families of the periodic table and their properties. The students really enjoy watching the video clips from Periodic Table Videos and the experiments performed by the Chemistry Department at the University of Nottingham.

As a class, we found the location of each family, recorded the elements for each family, discussed their properties, color coded the periodic table, and discussed any patterns they noticed.

Materials

  • Google Slides (Public) – updated for 2016 with links to the YouTube videos to view an element in each family
  • Handout – (pdf) students take notes for each family and use this is a reference for further lessons
  • Periodic Table – (Updated 2016 pdf) I like to use this student version of the periodic table from Jefferson Lab for my 6th graders. I photocopy it double sided – one side stays blank while the other side is color coded. If students have binders with a clear pocket on the outside front, I ask that they place it there for quick reference and access.

This activity was featured on the following blog post: The Joy of Chemistry – A Unit in Photos a few years ago. You can read about how she used this lesson in her 3rd grade classroom as part of her Chemistry unit.

Below is a video about Sodium from Periodic Table Videos. They have a lot of great chemistry videos posted for free on their site, be sure to check them out!

Sheep Head Dissection – Brains, Tongues, and Eyes

Our 7th grade team is revamping the science curriculum to include more dissections. Our focus in 7th grade is The Cell, Genetics, and the Human Body. Last year, we introduced the sheep heart dissection and it was such a great experience for our students. As far as dissections go, I do not like to use preserved specimens – they are often rubbery, pale yellow to beige in color, and look and feel so different than what the specimen is like in its original form. We ordered frozen sheep hearts from the butcher, thawed them in the fridge, and they were able to dissect a heart and see so much more detail than a preserved specimen.

This year, we wanted the students to dissect a sheep brain and didn’t want to use a preserved specimen. There was one ‘problem’, the head came with it. I didn’t see that as problem, instead my first reaction was – “We can dissect the eyes, too!”

The frozen heads were sawed in half so that each group could have half a skull to work on. (We kept some heads intact so that the students could make observations on those as well. Next year I will ask the butcher to saw them in half before they ship them to us.) My husband sawed them in half perfectly (thanks honey!) and it was amazing to see the internal anatomy – the brain, the sinus cavity, the tongue, the teeth, the muscles of the face, the eye in the eye socket, the lip – everything fitting together perfectly and all of it was perfect healthy tissue.

Once we had the heads prepared, and in the freezer, our next concern was student reaction. Would this be too much for them to handle? Would a lot of students opt out? We discussed the sheep head dissection with our students, and answered any and all questions they had. We expressed that they had options with how involved they wanted to be in the dissection process, that there were alternative options available, and we had them complete a quick Google survey. We wanted their honest answers and they were able to change their mind, either way, once the dissections started.

These were the survey choices:

  1. I am comfortable making observations, and handling the specimen and the dissecting tools
  2. I think I might be comfortable handling the specimen, tools, and making observations
  3. I don’t want to handle the specimen, but I would like to observe and take notes for my group
  4. I want to be in the room but keep my distance and get closer to the specimen as I get more comfortable
  5. I can’t be in the room for personal or religious reasons

Below are the student responses:Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.20.04 PM

All of our students were involved in some way based on their comfort level and the dissection was a huge success, something that they will always remember.

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Some tips for the Sheep Head Dissection:

Storage – large 1 gallon zip top bags can be used to store the 1/2 sheep skull in the fridge or freezer. Whole heads would be stored in a plastic shopping bag – grocery store size. Students names should be written on the bags with a permanent marker prior to any dissections starting. If frozen, half skulls will need to be out a few hours to thaw, whole skulls at least 6 hours. Thawing them the day before then placing them in the fridge works well.

Cleaning up – Lots and lots of newspaper and disinfecting wipes. This made clean up faster and easier. Students were able to wipe down their goggles, then the trays and equipment. Also, triple bag any garbage to avoid leaking and remove from classroom quickly. Since the specimens are food grade, they are able to be thrown out like kitchen refuse.

Dissection equipment – disposable scalpels are the better option, cleaning the scalpels was very time consuming – I did this at the end of the dissection, students did not take scalpels apart for safety reasons. It included removing and disposing the used blades and disinfecting the handles and replacing/screwing on new blades. Also, a few scalpels broke while the students used them. You do not need dissecting trays – aluminum foil trays, esp the ones that come with covers, are a good option. You can keep all your tools in the cover so they are easy to find and won’t get lost or thrown out by accident. When we were done with the dissection, I soaked & washed everything in a bleach solution to disinfect prior to storage.

Reference Material – We printed out diagrams and photos that were laminated and placed on the desks for students to use (we searched Google for images that were clear and easy to see structures with). This was really helpful when identify structures during the dissection. The laminated sheets were used during each class over several days, we did not have to worry about them getting wet or funky while we used them. You can also wipe them down after each class. To guide students during the dissection, we used a simple check list of items we wanted the students to observe. You can laminate this as well and use an Expo marker to check off  items:

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Post – Lab – we discussed the sheep dissection as a class and the students provided great insight and feedback. Instead of a formal lab report, we asked the students to write a one page reflection about their experience.