Science Teaching Tips
Weather Lesson Plan Ideas
Here are some great ways to incorporate weather in your class. Play the Video
1. Create weather flip books.
2. Track a storm and follow it from start to finish.
3. Make predictions about storms and compare it to what actually happens.
4. Precipitation graphs for your area.
5. Make windy things- windsocks, pinwheels, weather vanes.
6. Check out a cloud cam live.
7. Create a weather station.
8. Moods with weather- track and graph.
9. Get a barometer.
10. Should your school get a lightning rod?
"My tenth graders are required to research a career that depends on the knowledge of their different subject area classes. I had them read the Sunday Job section of our area newspaper to identify the jobs they could check. Many of them had never read this section and needed instruction relating to the phrases and symbols used in the paper. It also helped point out possibilities because many firms use a single large ad to list all of their positions. We talked about why the companies might be interested in accountants who had a good background in science even though the accountants are not responsible for "doing" scientific work."
Semantic Mapping to Teach a Concept
"Semantic mapping can be used for teaching a new concept or for reviewing a chapter in a science textbook. Select a chapter and makes notes on the major topics and points including vocabulary terms to be learned. Place the chapter topic in the central box that begins the map and draw lines to represent the main topics or key concepts to be covered. You can also add details about each topic and vocabulary terms. Use this to introduce topic to your class or to review the important topics. You can use this over and over again when teaching any topics that will come up year after year. Works great for science when trying to develop hard concepts. Also helps you to internalize the knowledge more effectively."
Always Build Scientific Attitudes
"The key to learning science is not only having a positive attitude toward science, but to develop a sound scientific attitude toward the discipline. Characteristics include objectivity, willingness to suspend judgment, skepticism, respect for the environment, and a positive approach toward failure. The best way to develop these characteristics in children is to model them as teachers. With every science activity you assign, you should model the behaviors you would expect your students to demonstrate by participating in group experiments or asking questions that probe more investigation, or discussing why something did not work according to plan. The most important thing is to always be the role model and share your own enthusiasm for science as a discipline."
Use Discovery to Teach Concepts
"A discovery approach to science is more interesting and meaningful to young chidden. A great activity that works with young children is discovering if ice cubes melt at the same rate in hot and cold water. They can do this with slight variations like the amount of water, size of containers used, if stirring the water makes a difference, the number of ice cubes in the water, etc. Just think of how many skills are being developed: observation, comparison, classification, prediction, and interpretation. Kids love it because they are so familiar with ice cubes!"
Using the Real Thing
"Get permission to take your students on a walking field trip to an area near to your school that has fields where various plants grow. Identify the plants that the students may dig up and allow them to dig the plants and place them into a plastic bag (make sure they dig up the root systems.) Once you get back to the class room, ask the students to place the plant on a sheet of paper and trace it as best they can. Provide a variety of resources showing different plants with labeled parts. Instruct them to label the parts of the plant that they traced. They can also see if they can identify the name of the plant by finding it in the resources that you provide."
"I have a fun method for teaching about muscle fatigue. I give each student a close pin. You want to use closepins that have a decent amount of tension when opening. Each student creates a data table displaying 5 trials and number of times the closepin was opened.
I demonstrate how to completely open the closepin. Students must touch the ends of the closepin together in order to completely open the closepins.
I partner students together. One student opens the closepin and the other student counts the number of times the closepin was opened.
I then instruct one partner to open their closepin as many times as possible in sixty-seconds. We repeat this four times. At the end of each trial, the students record how many times they opened their closepin. When one partner completes all five trials, the partners switch places. We repeat this another five trials for the other partner.
I then have students graph their individual results. We share all of the student's data on the black board and average each trial. I then have students graph the class's data. As a class we discuss the results. It works great as an introductory activity. Students enjoy it!"
"Make A Twister"
"My Physical Science class does a great activity to allow students
to get up close and personal with the concept of a tornado. Here is how
we make our classroom twisters:
Water, Vinegar, 8-10 oz. can/jar with lid (small coffee cans work well.), clear liquid dish soap, and Glitter.
1. Fill the can/jar 2/3 full with water.
2. Place one teaspoon of liquid soap and vinegar in can/jar.
3. Sprinkle in a pinch of glitter.
4. Close the lid of the can/jar and twist to see tornado vortex."
"Animals of the world."
"One concept that is hard for young children is the geographic location of animals in the wild. I take a map of the world and enlarged it twenty-fold using our school photocopier. After I piece together the map on the board, I add a grid using a meter stick. I grid it out so that the map contains 36 boxes (6 rows, 6 columns). I also cut bright neon note cards to the exact shape of one of the boxes. I then take pictures of various animals and glue them to oversized note cards. Remember that if you laminate everything, you will have for future classes. I add Velcro strips to all materials.
I make certain that I have at least one animal per student. I give each student a note card. I share a story with them about each animal. We then take turns placing the cards on the map as a class. When the class decides where it goes, I have individual students attach the Velcro. I then Velcro the neon note cards to the exact locations of the most prevalent locations of the animal population in the wild. If the class is within 2 boxes of one of the locations, the class receives a point. I then give the class rewards based on their final score.
Students have a really good time with this activity and they tend to hold on to the knowledge."
"Measurement Scavenger Hunt"
"I kick off my measurement unit by having students doing a scavenger hunt. I pair students together. I give each group the following equipment: a ruler, a meter stick, a thermometer, a measuring cup, and a scale.
I then provide each group with a scavenger hunt list of at list ten measurements. Students scour the room to find out which item/material corresponds to the measurement on their list. Easy items include books, student folders, and chalk. More difficult items include the student chairs, chalkboard height from the floor, and floor tiles.
I found the best thing to do is to provide multiple versions of the scavenger hunt list. Another thing that I learned is that you should make sure to choose measures of items that do not degrade or gain weight. Students have fun with this activity and it really gets them motivated to do the unit."
The model of a volcano is always a big hit with kids. Here is the way I make my model:
Materials Needed: white vinegar (brand names work better), baking soda, single paper plate, funnel, newspaper, water, sand, black/gray/brown paint, paint brush, 2 plastic containers, casting plaster.
Preparing Volcano: Cover the work area with newspaper. Add water to the sand and make a cone shape with the sand. Mix the casting plaster with water and pour it over the sand cone. Smooth out the plaster with a brush. Make a one inch hole in the top of the cone. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Remove the sand from the plaster. Put the dry plaster volcano on the paper plate. Mix more plaster with water and cover all of the edges of the volcano with plaster. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Mix more plaster with water and fill the volcano with the plaster; so that 2 inches remain between the plaster and the top hole of the volcano. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Paint the volcano your desired color. Allow the paint to completely dry.
Activating Volcano: Place the volcano on a dry covered surface. Using the funnel, place a generous amount of baking soda in the top of the volcano. Prepare a mixture of the white vinegar and red food coloring in a container. When you are ready to erupt the volcano, add this mixture to the baking soda and stand back.
"We usually start our dinosaur unit by making dinosaur eggs and referring back to them through out the unit. To make a dinosaur egg, take a large balloon and wrap it in five pieces of newspaper. Paper mache the balloon. Allow it to dry overnight. We like to color the eggs with paint and then cut a small hole into the egg. We place a small dinosaur toy inside of it."
An Activity File for Science
"Create a file that includes activities that can be used to teach science lessons. The file can be divided into topics that need to be covered. The file can also include the different types of activities that can be used to teach science such as ideas for bulletin boards, science fair projects, learning centers, games, problem solving skills, role of gender and various cultures in science, career possibilities, and computer programs, etc. Concrete materials for concept development and process development can also be filed separately."
Making Candles For The Holidays
Around the holidays it is great to make something that ties into the curriculum and the season. I like to make candles with my students. I usually send a letter home asking for $2.00 per student for supplies. That allows me to purchase about 100 pounds of paraffin.
"When I need a filler, I play Scattegories with my students using the content they learned that week. For example, I give them a letter, let's say B, and then I list things like outer space, animals, lab equipment, scientists, inventions, and then they have to name one that starts with the letter "B". Then we go through everybody's answers and those students that have a correct answer that no one else has get a point. We add up the points and give away prizes to the winners. It works great, but sometimes you need more time to declare a winner."
"Teach About Weather and Meet the Standards"
"A good way to teach about weather is to use a weather forecast resource such as the one offered on www.teach-nology.com. The resource, located on the home page, provides weather information for the United States, Canada, and International regions. The site offers a great map that can be used to teach regional forecasts and with a simple click on any region, students are brought to any specific location of choice. You can use this to reinforce charting and graphing of weather trends for any given region, conversions from Fahrenheit to Celsius, or for comparing and contrasting weather patterns depending on location. These type of sites also provide radar summaries, ultraviolet index exposure levels, and other features that can be used to teach environmental awareness."
"What Planet Am I From?"
"This game requires students to be in groups of nine. Within each group, each child is labeled a different Planet. In each corner of the room, draw a Sun in the center and circles for each planet. Make each child stand in his/her circle according to his planetary position. I usually use masking tape for this.
Once I have two or more groups set up, I start the game. The teacher describes one of the planets. If the teacher is describing Mars, then which ever student who is Mars that steps out of the setup first is the winner. If a student stands out of alignment incorrectly, they must also leave the planetary alignment. Students who lose must get out of the planetary alignment. We play until one planet is left. I usually give prizes to the whole group."
"Have you ever had trouble in Health or Science class with students trying to memorize the different names of bones? To make it a bit easier and fun, give each student or each group of 2 a long piece of masking tape. Have them rip them into 8 pieces (or as many bones as your working with to memorize) and then right the 8 bone structures like hip bone, femur and so on. Then, they place the tape on their body where the bone is at. For example, I would place the hip bone label on my hip. If they are working in groups of 2, they can label 4 on their partner and the other partner could label 4 on them. Students really love this activity. You can also use this activity for other body systems. Have fun!!! "
"Layers of Planet Earth"
"To teach a child the layers of Earth is a difficult task, he/she can not imagine what we are describing. So I took an apple and cut it in half. Wow! Every part we want to describe is in that apple. Starting from the core moving upward to the apples skin which, represents the earths crust. It even led them to draw the layers. They are reminded of the Earth's layers each time they have an apple. Try it! It works!"
"The Force of Plants"
"As a Science Day project the student were interested in the idea of how plants are strong enough to grow through concrete tiles?
To show this, we placed some beans in four jars, kept them wet. Covered each with a small piece of wood and placed different weights on each jar starting from 50 grams to 1 kilogram. In a few days the beans started growing and bang ...the weights started falling off as the strength of the plants toppled of the weights and the project students were astonished to see what force do plants have in weight lifting. The students won the first prize."
"As a middle level teacher, I am always trying to teach concepts that involve sequence. I find when I physically involve students in the learning process, I have great success.
A simple example is when I review the order of the planets. I ask for 10 volunteers. 9 students receive a planet's name and the remaining student is the sun. The student representing the sun is given a large spot light to hold in the middle of the room. The planets then revolve around the sun.
We then take it a step further and involve their math teacher to determine the exact distance each student must stand from the sun exactly to scale based on the size of the walking diameter of the room. Later, we add the moons of each planet and involve all the students in the class. If we have extra students, we add comets.
I find that with type of activity students really become engaged."
"Watch Them Grow"
"Every spring I have my students grow small plants in my classroom. I provide students with all the needed materials. We have a contest to see which group of students can grow the largest plant. I give students 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the school day to care for their plants.
I usually start this activity 30 days prior to starting my plant unit as a discovery lesson. It really helps to engage them in the unit.
One thing that I have learned is to make sure to schedule this activity when you do not have long breaks off of school."