Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Scientists in Action!

We are down to our final 5 weeks of school and it is DEFINITELY Spring, which means my students are full of energy and excitement!  I've learned that for my own sanity, instead of trying to control and minimize the Springtime-craziness, I must take advantage of it.  So in these final weeks, we are pumping up the engagement with lots of hands-on, minds-on learning in all subject areas...especially science!

We've saved the best for last, and are using our final weeks to learn all about different states of matter.  Last Friday, we took our learning outside into our school's courtyard to observe each state of matter within a balloon 'shell'.  We filled several balloons with water and froze them to represent the solid,  Balloons filled with water represented the liquid, and balloons filled with air represented the gas.    

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These little scientists took their jobs very seriously!  They wrote down lots of 'sciency' words like 'airish substance' and 'liquidy inside' to describe the different balloons.  Of course, we had to "remove" the shell to truly see what the insides looked like.  You would have thought we took the kids to Toys 'R Us because they were SO excited!  My favorite quote that goes along with the pic below: "THERE'S MATTER EVERYWHERE!!!!"
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Next, we used resources from Hope King to observe what the molecules look like within different states of matter.  Using balloons as the molecules, I filled clear garbage bags up- the solid had tons of balloons tightly packed together, the liquid had several balloons that could move and flow, and the gas had very few molecules that had tons of room to move and float around.  The kids were quick to make the connection, and ready to make their own molecule models.  

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Today, we explored the differences between observable and measurable criteria, created TPR to help differentiate between "volume" and "mass", and used our super science skills to classify a foreign object (Poprocks) based on its observable criteria.  Much to their surprise, we discovered that our foreign substance had a solid shell, but a gas (Carbon Dioxide) center.  It was also helpful that students came to the conclusion that by combining different states of matter, like solid and gas, and even solid and liquid (Poprocks and spit), weird things can happen!  

Where will we go from here?!

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I still have a few tricks up my sleeve!   

What do you do to wrangle in the end-of-the year jitters?

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