Today’s science class was amazing! Students were given their supplies and materials and had to design their own way to test and collect data and observations on the results. Fifth-graders – who have been creating saturated solutions and measuring the amounts of solute (in grams) needed – had to create a focus question to test concentration of a solution and write an hypothesis. The first reaction was, “I don’t know what to do.” And my response was, “Exactly!” I didn’t tell the teacher-guided lesson plan. Fourth-graders had to design models of circuits through which electricity would flow with the given materials.
They had to put their prior knowledge and curiosity to work! And boy, did they! Their inquiry instincts kicked in and the room was buzzing with excitement as they used the tools to create, construct, check, and measure their hypotheses. They were able to describe their results – how they knew their solutions were different concentrations by look, taste, and gram measurements in the solvent, or the success of their circuits. I heard explanations like, “First, I didn’t know what to do, but when I realized what you meant, I added one scoop to the first cup, two scoops to the second cup, three scoops to the third cup, and four scoops to the fourth cup.” “It was hard, because you didn’t tell us what to do, but then we tried it and we figured it out by tasting it.” “It surprised me when we could light the bulb and run the motor with the same battery!”
These types of thinking develop problem-solving skills, communication with others, and confidence with risk-taking. There were a few messes to clean up, but it was all worth it!