experiments

Let the labs begin….

After completing my first lab with my grade 7 and 8 classes, the following thoughts have filled my mind:

It is hard for students to have a triple beam balances in front of them, and not play with them. After the labs this week, we went from having 7 working triple beam balances to four. I am not quite sure what happened, and it is quite possible that they were on the brink of doom before the labs, but still…

To help students learn proper use, I will be posting the following websites on my school science page:
(This will, of course, be followed with more in-class practise. In my class, the more hands-on activities, the better. )

WISC Online – Reading a Triple Beam Balance

Triple Beam Balance use and tutorials from OHAUS

But there is also the thought that using triple beam balances may not be the only way to go. We have now begun to consider the use of digital scales. I was on a tour of the science labs at another IB school in Toronto, as we are looking at design considerations for a new science lab. The school that I visited had a slew of digital scales out on the counter. The cost is greater, and so we must consider whether or not cheaper digital scales will be as effective. But they have to be more effective than non-functional triple beam balances, don’t they? There is also the skill factor. Students should be learning to use various lab tools. I don’t think that we should abandon the balances, but perhaps find a way to incorporate both.

Then we come to graduated cylinders. With my grade 7 class, it came to the point where I was doing the measuring for them. Not the way I would normally go, but there were other considerations that were more important at the time. Over the next few weeks I need to make sure that I properly teach students how to read a graduated cylinder. I will be posting these sites to help them review the process, and then will follow up with an in-class activity:

WISC Online – Measuring Volume using a Graduated Cylinder

ChemPages Laboratory Resources – Reading the Volume from a Graduated Cylinder

This week my grade 7 and 8 classes will be handing in their first lab reports as a follow up to the in-class labs. In past years, the marking of lab reports has been all-consuming. I welcome any strategies that you can share so that I do not have to enter hibernation as I mark.

Have a great week.

Posted by admin in General Science, Grade 7 Science, Grade 8 Science, 0 comments

Plant a SEED, watch it grow.

Have you heard about SEED?

SEED stands for ‘Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development’. It is a “non-profit education program that focuses on underserved communities”, in its own words.  The overall goal is to enable educators in all parts of the world to ignite a passion in students for the learning of science. It encourages an understanding of various global issues, and it strives to have students make these issues a focus in their lives.

The online Laboratory is what I like to explore, and more importantly, what I like my students to explore.  Some of the labs are activities for you to carry out with your own students, while others are online explorations that are perfect for at home trials or presentation on an interactive whiteboard.

I have used the Buoyancy Explorer with my students. This online exploration allows the user to test various solids to see how they will float in various fluids. On the same page there are links to Archimedes principle and other teaching facts related to buoyancy. The students have also enjoyed using the Viscosity Explorer. Again, many links are provided for other activities and labs that are related to the topic.

There are many teaching ideas and lessons, with the topic labels being air and space, earth science, electricity and magnetism, properties of liquids, and energy. There are many worthwhile activities to explore in each of these areas.

But don’t stop there. Below the Laboratory links are a series of Math links as well. Click on Math and it opens into the various curriculum strands, each highlighting a series of activities and puzzles to support learning in that area.

And yet one more area in the Science section of the SEED website is the Articles section. These appear to be small fact based articles in various areas of the science curriculum.

These are but a few sections of the SEED website. I was content to stop there, but you may want to explore more.

Posted by admin in General Science, Grade 8 Science, Using Tech, 0 comments

…and we’re back!

January 24, 2011

Yes. I am actually writing something.

No excuses. It is what it is.

Today’s subject is science. Even before we had our Smartboards installed in our classrooms, I have always loved using interactive websites for teaching. I send the students home with instructions to complete an activity on a website, and they go home actually excited to do their homework. What a great way to learn.

One of my favourite science sites is the PhET Interactive Simulation lab, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. There are simulations for physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math, too. You can search by topic or by grade level. Click on the section for teachers, and there you can browse the activities that others have submitted – activities which incorporate the simulations. Brilliant. Feeling generous? You can submit your own activities, as well.

The one that I have most used is the Circuit Construction Kit for the Grade 6 Electricity unit. I have created a set of challenges with parallel and series circuits, and I have the students try them out on the website before building the circuits in class. I have attached the worksheets that I created.

Go ahead, give it a try.

Series and Parallel Circuits Worksheets

Posted by admin in General Education, General Science, 0 comments