How can talk about science be facilitated so that all students feel part of the community and are willing to contribute their expertise to the discussion? On September 23, Mrs. Reba Johnson, MSPS teacher of the 1st/2nd grade multi-age classroom (Johnson’s Dinosaurs), shifted her students outside to continue a discussion as part of their unit on weather.
Despite plans to study the sun this week, the planned lessons were literally rained out. Instead, this opened an even more exciting student-led experiential learning activity about the water cycle, precipitation, and rain gauges!
Students were able to capture the rainfall overnight and examine how much rain fell in our area by creating rain gauges from plastic cups.
There was a lot of trial and error and they decided placing a rock in the bottom of each cup would prevent cups blowing away in the wind or present the possibility of them falling over and losing their data. The class was joined by UNCG STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative (STEM TLC) team member, Dearing Blankmann, as they checked the results the following morning. When the students were taken outside on this day, the cups had plenty of water in them due to rain from the day before.
Through the use of effective questioning techniques, Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Blankmann prompted students to think about what they observed.
The class noticed that the water level dropped as the rocks were removed from each cup. Specifically, they noticed that the bigger the rock, the bigger the level dropped. They also began to wonder where the rain that was not in the cup went. What would happen if the water in the cup had more rocks in it? What would happen to the water if the cups had been left outside?
The students’ wonderings led them to understand how, when a rock was removed from a cup, the water level decreased. This lesson was a beautiful example of the integration of math and science. Students engaged in the application of math concepts, including volume, even and odd, and doubles equations. The students discovered the displacement of water, which was another great phenomenon! This student-led inquiry helped promote scientific discussion, journal writing, applied math concepts, and more ideas for science lessons to come based on student interest.