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Ruth-you have blessed me (and all of us) with these posts. My dc wanted to do a sci fair this yr and I had no idea where to start so we planned it instead for this year. Hearing your explanation of the process and how it is fleshed out has really, really helped me! THANK YOU!

 

(of course, I am still scared to death to attempt it though, but at least I now feel I could try!)

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Ruth... I would pretty much read anything you had to write on this subject. ;-) I am compiling it all in its own file today. So if you have the time and inclination I would love to hear about your youngest ds minibeast's project that he is doing this year in your 'garden'. ;-) I am trying to ascertain the main difference between doing a science fair project with a 2nd/3rd grader and with a 5th grader.

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Ruth... I would pretty much read anything you had to write on this subject. ;-) I am compiling it all in its own file today. So if you have the time and inclination I would love to hear about your youngest ds minibeast's project that he is doing this year in your 'garden'. ;-) I am trying to ascertain the main difference between doing a science fair project with a 2nd/3rd grader and with a 5th grader.

 

I would be very interested, too. I know your a busy woman, though. :)

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Ruth, thank you for inspiring me to do "real" science. Thank you to the OP, littlefurfamily, for starting this thread.

 

Janell

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Thought I better cross post this, as all my science ideas are currently on this thread. This is from the "5th grade science the WTM way" thread.

 

Here is my interpretation of how to do science the WTM way. For 5th grade you need to pick 3 topics for the 3 terms (or 4 topics for 4 terms here in NZ). Your options:

 

Botany (great in spring/summer)

Animal Diversity

Human Biology

Cell biology and genetics/inheritance/DNA, RNA, protein, meiosis, mitosis

Evolution (if this is an option for your family)

Environmental science (can also be studied during earth science)

Ecology (competition, predation, population size, interaction with plants)

Biome diversity (arctic vs tropical forest and how relates to climate)

Oceanography (can also be studied during earth science)

 

For each topic, choose books from the library to read. Don't forget to go to the adult section (yes, even in 5th grade) because they often have wonderful coffee table books on tropical rainforests and oceans etc, and many kids at age 11 will delve into a topic beyond most children's library sections.

 

Have the child read, make lists of interesting facts to memorize, draw diagrams (heart etc). Have discussions on more complicated topics like ecology and genetics. Have a look on the internet. We found a great discussion of haemophilia in the royal families of europe when we were studying genetics. Grab a newspaper and read the science stories. Talk about pseudoscience vs real science. Get some science magazines to read and discuss. Read biographies

 

Experimental part. If you want cheap and free, here are some ideas:

 

Human biology: dissect an ox heart, a pig eyeball, an oyster (cheap to do). Buy an owl pellet to study bones.

 

Animal diversity: Collect and identify organisms in an environment. You could easily do arthropods in your yard or sea life in a rocky intertidal zone. Or even a pond would be great.

 

Cell biology: borrow a microscope, look at stuff, use internet to identify organisms

 

Ecology: Do a project in your backyard. Count number of birds in a field and correlate it to the weather.

 

Genetics: Find a trait and trace it through your entire (hopefully large and multi generational) family. Determine the alleles.

 

Env. Science: Read newspaper and interpret graphs and charts. Do research on an env issue.

 

Botany: plant a garden. Do a real experiment with replication. 10 plants with fertilizer, 10 without. Measure every week and graph.

 

Make sure to do the standard: hypothesis, method, result, discussion write up for at least 1 experimental/observation project each term.

 

Ruth

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Okay, I guess most people realize by now that I am procrastinating. Yes, I really am supposed to be organizing the science fair that is in 10 days....

 

Here is my 7 year old's science fair project on Minibeasts.

 

Exploration stage.

 

April week 1. Start talking about biology ideas. I have done a bad job of narrowing his focus mostly because he has had little interest in biology this year. While walking in the woods we discuss ideas. We see weeds everywhere - plants that are exotic to NZ and real pests. How about a weed project. Let's try to see which way to kill them works the best. Not sure if we will get in trouble for doing this in the public park! :001_huh: How about fire. He loves the idea of fire. Obviously, I start to back -peddle right away. 7 year olds and fire don't typically mix well. My son did a survey of ferns for Kindy4, and fertilizer for Kindy5, and my older son has done a mushroom project for 1st grade, so we want something a bit different. How about bugs? I start to think this will be great, I only later realize (and I mean a month later) that he is a bit squeamish about bugs. We go to the library and get out all the books on bugs.

 

April week 2. The gardeners find a very large centipede in the garden and save it for us. We take photos and talk about the difference between centipedes and millipedes and that centipedes bite.... Not helping the squeamish part. Start reading some books on bugs. Find a nice series on where to find minibeasts that has a series of "experiments" where you go and find some minibeasts.

 

April week 3. Look under some rocks, find earthworms, ants, hopping little thingies. Read up on ants. Reserve a book on earthworms.

 

April week 4. Try shaking a tree over a white sheet to see if anything falls out. Nothing does. Happen to find a number of large stick insects on the wall outside. Lay out some food for the ants. Go and check back the next day. It is all gone, we saw no animals. Try it again, same result. We start to wonder if the food is being eaten by mice, rather than ants. We never see the ants out of their hidden burrow. (ant hills here are rare and hidden)

 

At this point, we should be in the project stage, but as you will read, exploration continues for a few weeks....

 

May, 6 weeks to the science fair, time to decide on a question. We are not really ready. He is interested in where to find minibeasts and what types of food attract them. We start to record data more carefully. He wants me to write it down outside, and let him copy it into his own "data collection booklet" which he wants to be in his own handwriting. This will be time consuming, as he is not a big writer. We talk about trying different locations with food - leaf litter, open area, sunny, shady etc. We talk about trying different types of food - fruit, rotten fruit, meat (decide this might attract rats), honey, etc. Find a book on trap making.

 

May, 5 weeks to the science fair. We start to take photos in earnest. I teach him how to use the macro lense and that he has to hold the camera still. They find a pseudoscorpian in the dirt, and my 10 year old gets soooooo excited. "I have always wanted to find a pseudoscorpian" he tells us. Ok!?!?!? unexpected. But it makes the 7 year old pretty excited. They spend 1 hour trying to get a good photo as this creature is smaller than an ant. We do decide on one part of his question. How much diversity in minibeasts can I find in my garden.? We talk about Kingdoms, phylums, classes etc. I try and try over a number of days, to make sure that he understands the full implications of the classification system. Not sure it is sinking in, and I will keep working on it for the next month. We start to take photos of every minibeast we find. We find LOTS of insect orders - like 10. I am pretty pleased.

 

May, 4 weeks to the science fair. I am beginning to realize that he cannot conceptualize the project in his head. It is too amorphous. I decide that we need to start making the poster now, rather than waiting until the end of the project. We spend 2 hours over 2 days drawing and redrawing what his poster might look like. He starts to make the diagram of the classification system - we find molluscs (slugs, snails), arthropods (spiders, centi/millipedes, insects, and one 10-legged minibeast that I still don't know what it is), and annelids (earthworms). We also make a pit-fall trap and bait it with bananna, then orange, then honey. What we find is only somewhat different. This aspect of his project looks doomed to fail. I am starting to think that we don't have time to try different foods with replication (many tries over many days). I am considering dropping this part of the project and sticking to the classification side only.

 

May, 3 weeks to the science fair. We decide on a question (this is very late!) His words: How many different kinds of minibeasts can we find in our garden with different traps and different enticers? I like it (and get the giggles over the word "enticers".) It does not assume that we will have data about which bugs are attracted to what food. Still thinking that visual would help to focus him. We develop all the photos we have so far, and enlarge them, then cut them out and put them next to his classification diagram. I buy the poster board and we put it all on. We pick colors and leave room for the description, and make a list of all the minibeasts we have seen in the garden that we don't have photos for. We take pictures of the study site. I am still hoping that this project will be more than just classification. I would love a graph. But it is not looking likely.

 

June, 2 weeks to the science fair. We type up the intro and the methods. I run around for 30 minutes trying to take a picture of a bee. No luck. We make a "minibeast soil collector" with an upsidedown bottle and a hot lamp. We get nothing. We bait the pit fall trap with honey. We print the title. We make a list of what is left to do.

 

yikes, this project is not going as well as his brother's. But that is science. You never know what will happen. Some projects are good; others are not. I have already told you about my friend who spent a SUMMER in Death Valley trapping kit fox and got 2. Project over.

 

Sounds like you all will need an update in 2 weeks......

 

ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
more editing, must be late

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Looking forward to the update. This is so interesting - thank you, Ruth, for taking the time to post. This has opened up a whole new vision of science for me and it's fascinating.

 

Trenna

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Someone, anyone, just tell me what to do and I will do it. I promise!! We just do not "do" it. I want to do it..the kids want to do it....we just don't....please just tell me what to do. :confused::confused::confused::confused: WTM notebooks don't happen. We have such good intentions and we try, but alas, not so much.

My children are (in the fall) 7th grade boy (only mildly interested) and 3rd grade girl (VERY clever and VERY highly motivated) I just can't reinvent the wheel, so I would love to combine at least on some level. Secular would be preferable (though we are Christian). I'll do some experiments. I'll buy extra books. I just need a plan!

 

Where does it fall apart for you? As you can see, there are many ways to approach science, to approach anything really, but you seem to have trouble with the implementation or follow through.

 

Do you have trouble 'getting to' any other subject? You mention your children's interest in the subject, is that the determining factor? What if they did or did not like math? Would that be a factor?

 

Is it the hands on factor? I know I sometimes have trouble creating hands on opportunities for my kids. I can do book work and let them watch videos til the cows come home, but hands on is hard for me. I spend time every summer putting together ALL the materials for each and every lab we will do for the year. I put them in bags and bottles and label things and put it all in a big tupperware container or box. Then I just pull it out as we go along. I leave myself no excuse or opportunity to fail.

 

Is it time? Do you get to the end of your regular school day and not have time for 45 mins of 'extra' science? Well, do the science first. Or, plan to do some every day and make it a regular part of your schedule.

 

Is it that you don't like science or don't have a good grasp on much of the subject? That can make it hard to rouse enthusiasm.

 

Only you know why it isn't happening. I suggest you think on that part of the process. You can buy "The Best" science program in the world but it won't mean a thing if you don't take it out of the box.

 

What subject are successful for you? Do they have something in common? Is it "open and go" or DVD based or delight led or what? Where are you successful? Figure that out, and then think of ways to make your approach to science look like that. You don't need to figure the right science. You need to figure out how to make science work for you.

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Yes, this has been fantastic! I promise to stop asking questions of you Ruth so you can get back to work! ;-)

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As promised, here is the update on 5th grader's Biology science fair project.

 

This is his write up (he even typed it!) and a photo

 

Introduction

What is a micro-organism? A micro-organism can be anything from a single-celled bacteria to a multi-celled animal like a Rotifera. Just like a rain forest compared to a desert, I expected that there would be a huge difference in diversity between mucky water and pristine water.

 

Question

What sort of water has the most diversity?

 

Methods

  • Collected water from my frog terrarium (Photo 1), a ditch (Photo 2), a ocean rock pool (Photos 3 & 4), and a creek (Photo 5).
  • Made 7 slides for each sort of water.
  • Searched each slide with a microscope.
  • Drew, measured, and identified the organisms.

 

Results

 

  • All of the waters had the same diversity at the Phylum level (see Graph 1).
  • Creek Water has the highest diversity of Protists (see Graph 2).
  • Rock-Pool Salt Water has the highest diversity of Animals (see Graph 3).
  • See Chart 1 for details of phyla found in each water, and drawings of interesting animals.

Discussion

Although I expected to find the most diversity in Frog Water because it was full of organisms, I found that all water types had the same number of phyla. It is easy to confuse the number of creatures with the number of phyla. For example, Frog Water has an enormous number of organism but not a lot of diversity within each phylum. Creek Water, whose slides were almost empty, had a huge amount diversity.

 

Another problem was where I sampled from. In creek water if I sampled from the top, I would not get any organisms, but if I sampled the small amount of muck at the bottom, I would get a few.

 

Conclusion

All types of water have identical diversity, if the muckiest part was sampled.

 

 

Extra information that did not make it into the poster

How I search a slide: I searched a slide on 100x and when I found a creature, I changed to 400x. When I thought I had found all the creatures on the slide, I changed to 100x to search the slide one more time. This process took me approximate 30 to 45 minutes per slide.

post-15809-13535085068592_thumb.jpg

Edited by lewelma
clean up formatting

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Here is the first grader's write up and poster. My ds7 obviously required help in designing the layout of this poster. Although you cannot see it well, each circle has the name of the minibeast in his handwriting.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

Question

How many different kinds of minibeasts can I find in my garden with different traps and different enticers?

 

Introduction

A minibeast is very small animal which can be classified into 3 different groups: Arthropods, Molluscs, and Annilids. Arthropods have an exoskeleton and jointed legs. Molluscs include slugs and snails. Annilids include earthworms.

 

Methods

I looked for minibeasts under and around stones, bark, trees, leaves, flowers, walls, pavement, soil, lights, and in our house.

I made a pitfall trap. I used banana, orange, and honey for bait.

I classified the minibeasts using library books and the Internet.

 

Results

I found Molluscs, Arthropods, and Annelids.

I found more Arthropods than any other minibeast category.

I found 9 Insect Orders.

 

Discussion

I did not expect to find so many different kinds of minibeasts. It took 6 weeks for me to find all the animals. I searched in winter, but I expect that I could find even more minibeasts in the summer.

post-15809-13535085068714_thumb.jpg

Edited by lewelma
To include text

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I'm ditching my idea of using a science textbook this year for my fifth grader and instead putting together a more interest-guided journey through biology, and I HOPE to do an awesome independent project with him too.

 

I have one question, and that is about patience. My son is very impatient and I truly can't imagine him spending 30-45 minutes reviewing each slide, and doing that for 21 different slides. Is it just the fact that your project was his interest, or is my child unusual?

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My son loves microbiology. He did one slide a day for 2.5 weeks and then had a "oh no" moment and had to do 3 slides a day for 3 days to finish on time. But we had made a schedule, and he had not kept it, so he knew what he had to do.... He did say his eyes were quite tired after 3 slides!

 

If a child is interested in the project, he will do heaps. That is why it needs to be his/her own project (not yours). If he likes fire, he will burn things for hours I am sure. However, there is drudgery in all science. Hence the Edison's quote "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Science takes time.

 

I remember once being interested in doing a behavioral, observational study on mammals, and I had a VERY wise friend suggest that I trial this first. He said I could find a group of Marmots (furry rabbits like animals) outside of town. He said that I should go watch them for 6 hours a day for a few days to see if I could actually do that kind of work. I lasted 3 hours, and went to find a different style of project (statistical modelling!!).

 

Do what your son CAN do. Science is a broad topic! There will be something interesting for him out there.

 

Ruth

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Thank you Ruth for posting the pictures and information. I will add them to my growing science fair file. ;-)

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This is great thread. I will read every word in the morning. time to print out our plan for the day and get to bed. I feel like I am finally going to nail this science thing. The kids are getting impatient!

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I know.. Lewelma is a genius. ;-) I love her. ;-)

 

By the way, how are you Lewelma? Any new things to tell us about??? ;-) ;-) We love to listen to your science plans and what you have going on.

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SaDonna, you are very good for my ego.

 

I actually had something wonderful happen today, just a few hours ago..... My ds (8) came up with an astronomy project!!! (well mostly, a bit of engineering too). You may never have thought about how hard it is for an eight year old to do any NEW research in astronomy, but really, it is impossible. Are they going to find new information on the red shift or how sun spots work? not likely.

 

We are actually in the difficult year of the WTM 4-year cycle-- earth science. Astronomy, geology, oceanography, and meteorology. In general this field is the pits for kids and real science fair projects. You could survey the rocks or study the weather in your area , but we have done this. I have been thinking about environmental science instead-- pollution, littering, surveys, etc. Some possibilities there.

 

sooooooo, we were reading about the sun, and there was a little description about how to make a solar oven. My ds says "well, I think that a shallow bowl would be way better for making toast than a trash can lid, because it would focus the beams of light better."

 

My minds starts to work..... "Wow, that is a great question. I bet we could do that for a science fair project."

 

ds: "But the science fair is in the winter, there would be less sun."

 

Me: (getting more excited) "you are right, but could we not see how long it takes to toast the bread in the summer sun vs the winter sun? We could even look at the different amount of time for toast depending on clouds or fine weather."

 

ds" "And I think that you may need to hold the toast further away if you are using a bowl."

 

Me: "That is another good questions, how long to toast the bread depending on the distance from the base." I start thinking... replication, averages, physics of light, reflection, refraction, outside project:001_smile:, lots of toast:001_smile: .....

 

Then my ds says "but it will be too easy, not a big project." Little does he know.... Then he says, "but I think I want to determine which galaxy is the furthest away." :001_huh: um, ok, not sure how we will do that one!!

 

But now I have something to play with come bbq season in January! Our first idea of the year, this is an exciting moment even if it comes to nothing.

 

Ruth in NZ (land of the January BBQs)

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I want to BBQ In NZ in January!!! I will trade you. You can come BBQ in WA in January. he he ..

 

I loved your update. What a great idea he had. Isn't it just like a kid though to go bigger ... "Wouldn't it be great if I could measure the WHOLE UNIVERSE!!" ha. I can't wait to hear how it goes. We are excited to do our own science fair project this year.. our first!

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Bumping a post that can't be read too often, or by too many people....

 

SaDonna, did you ever pull all Lewelma's gems together into a quick and easy file? I was about to do so, but if you already have and wouldn't mind posting or e-mailing I would be very grateful--to both of you.

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I agree... I enjoy revisiting it as well! Sorry though, I haven't compiled it anywhere yet... just printed a few things and read it over and over. ;-) I need to though!

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Ruth, I realize I've been doing something similar to what you describe, only that I have been calling it "unschooling" science because I am not a scientist and have had no idea how to teach science to my science loving 9 year old son.

 

My son also spends less time, i.e. 2 months vs one year and then will present what he's researched during our homeschool group's presentation day as the finale (instead of a science fair). Your method sounds so much more like what I'd like to achieve though. Thanks so much for writing it all out.

 

I realize compiling your thoughts into one doc will help a lot of people so I've attempted to do that. Only that I'm unable to upload any doc larger than 19.5kb in size so I have split it up into 2 text docs instead.

 

First time I'm doing this so hope it works. Part 1 attached here. Part 2 in next post.

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I realize compiling your thoughts into one doc will help a lot of people so I've attempted to do that. Only that I'm unable to upload any doc larger than 19.5kb in size so I have split it up into 2 text docs instead.

First time I'm doing this so hope it works. Part 1 attached here. Part 2 in next post.

 

 

Part 2 attached.

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Thank you, Quark (and others, oh my!), for you kind words.

 

Thought I would cross post something I wrote on the K-8 board. You have probably already seen it, but it fleshes out what I have on this thread, so I thought I would add it here. I wrote it to help a kid who was so excited about science and so busy with his scientific studies that he never stopped to write anything down, make posters, or "share" his knowledge.....

 

 

Here are my two goals for elementary (K-8) science education:

 

1) Get as much general knowledge into his head as possible until he is ready for high school texts. This includes Biology, earth and space science, chemistry, and physics, and the MANY sub-disciplines within.

 

2) Give him a beginning understanding of scientific thinking, which includes:

a) your questions must be falsifiable

b) you must be objective when answering your questions

c) you must think about your assumptions

d) you need to collect data systematically

e) you must be willing to find your ideas wrong

f) And... a general knowledge about replication and averages and probability would be a major plus heading into high school science

 

So this is how I achieve these goals:

 

1. I follow the WTM approach of 1 year for each major area of science in g1-g4, and then a repeat in g5 through g8 before highschool. However, you can also do all 4 areas each year. Regentrude has discussed this, and I believe that this is the way that both MSNucleus and Singapore Science curriculums work. We read, read, read. And discuss all the time. We discuss library books, documentaries, random ideas, the news. For example, what is the implication of the faster than light particle that they discovered? Ok.... Did they actually discover it? What does the statement actually say? Did they replicate? Who can replicate their work? Japan could have but their facility was destroyed in the earthquake. What are the implications if they are right? What scientific theories will need to be remade? We discussed all this just in passing for about an hour over 2 nights with our 11 and 7 year olds. So you see how this discussion leads to the second goal:

 

2. We achieve scientific thinking through discussion (as described above) and through a 6-10 week long science fair project. We do not do demonstrations throughout the year in elementary and middle school (unless the middle school child is doing high school level textbooks.)

 

Ok, so where does output and "sharing" come in for an elementary child? Here are a bunch of examples of output and my thoughts:

 

discussion: all the time

oral narration: sometimes when it might be helpful

memory work: I put together a list of what they want to remember and review monthly or so

projects: large science fair project answering a question of their choice. We write up their report together.

lab reports: none

scientific research reports/ written narrations: maybe a few a year for their writing program

diagrams: if it would help, they have been known to copy them for fun (like 1 a year)

questions from a text book: we don't use textbooks in elementary

Field trips: as much as we feel like

 

The problem with the output for grammar level science is that it is just explaining what you just read about, which is easy. It is just narration, which you can do in any subject, so why slow down the child who is sooooo excited just to learn about science. Your next question should obviously be, WHEN do you expect output for science? My answer would be when they study a high school level subject intensively.

 

High school level textbooks get into the more difficult questions than "explain" and "describe". Questions like evaluate, interpret, integrate, compare and contrast, critique, etc. And these are questions that you need to guide your student over many months about how to answer. I teach ds to make sure he 1) answers the question that is asked, 2) revises his answer orally until it is short enough to write down, 3) write it down 4) check that you answered the question and 5) if you have "ideal" answers, compare your answer to the ideal and figure out how you could have improved. If you have a good textbook with good questions, answering them can be REALLY HARD, and not just for your child.

 

Output also comes in high school with mathematics, equation balancing, essay taking, lab write ups, etc. I do not think that it makes a budding scientist more prepared to have him try to mimic this output at a lower scale when younger. And I definitely think that doing posters and projects etc do NOT help with learning science. They are good for other things like creativity, independence, time management, writing skills, etc. But if your son just wants to fly with science, do posters and projects for something else.

 

Last thing (yes this is getting long) how do you organize "delight" driven science. In our family, we do one topic per year. The kids know what we are doing. This year it is earth science. We are all talking about it as a family. We are all excited. We work together. Term 1 is astronomy, term 2 geology, term 3 oceanography, term 4 meteorology. We go to the library and get out books, lots and lots of books and documentaries. They can do what they want. I don't force it. If they want to read a book about birds, great, but the whole family is currently into astronomy. So it is what we are all thinking about, talking about, noticing in the news, noticing in the sky. So it keeps our study of science systematic. Seems to work great.

Edited by lewelma

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Ruth,

 

Thank you so much for the cross-post. This is just what I needed. You make it sound so nice and simple. I do think that we often get caught up in all this early writing with lab reports, sketches etc. Discovery is forgotten. I need to remember this--Science is fun!

 

Thanks,

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Great information. We are currently working through BFSU 1, and because it skips around through the various topics of science, I thought that it wouldn't come together very well. I am pleased to say that it really is, and I am finding my children asking questions that pertain to several lessons ago, so I know they are retaining it.

 

It's not the sequence that you are using Ruth, and I must say that how you are doing it would make more sense to me in being able to pull together literature and documentaries around one particular subject. I guess I am just at the stage right now where I am trying to build a 'foundation' of science for them to grow on. I am adding DVDs, literature and supercharged science videos, Eureka videos, etc. where appropriate. But we don't stay on one topic too long at this point. Do you fill that the way Dr. Nebel is approaching science is a valid way? So far it doesn't feel haphazardly thrown together, but well thought out. I like how each thing flows into the next. I am of the mind to continue on into Vol II and III, but it will take up a fair portion of our allotted science time together.

 

I am mostly just thinking out loud. Either way we are doing an extended science project, but the approach you are doing with WTM style vs BFSU are two very different ways of going about it.

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SaDonna,

 

I have heard very good things about his program. My understanding is that he teaches the 4 main disciplines of science each year, and progressively increases the student's understanding of each over many years. This IS systematic. I don't think it matters the order of the material you study. And Regentrude has written that students often can get a better understanding of how all areas of science are integrated if you study the 4 disciplines in a single year. I achieve this integration by making sure we study chemistry when we are doing geology, and physics when we are studying astronomy, etc. This integration might use more of my personal knowledge than I realize, which others may not be able to imitate. For example, when we studied quartz, my son was very interested in the chemical composition and how it compared to amethyst. So I just got out the periodic table and a piece of paper and showed him how the atoms connect together using shell diagrams. :001_smile:

 

We study 1 science discipline per year only because I read about it in the WTM when I first started homeschooling and it resonated with me. I can keep track of where we are and what is coming up, and so can the kids. They like to know that next term in geology and next year is Chemistry. But keep in mind that we do a new sub-discipline each term, which is like a new topic from a kid's point of view. Do you really think that my 7 year old sees how oceanography and meteorology connect better than biology and chemistry. Not likely. And we are NOT purists. My kids are currently in love with all The Way Things Work physics videos with the Mammoths. And my 7 year old has just gotten out all the Magic School Bus books from the library. So he is currently reading about bees and rain forests.

 

It sounds like you have found something that resonates with you and your children. Trust your instincts.

 

Ruth

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Oh My Goodness .. I didn't realize there were The Way Things Work videos!!! ;-) ;-) I am going to need to check the library or Netflix.. my initial search came up with a $500 price tag.

 

I appreciate that there are different approaches to be used, and I can see your point that BFSUI is sequential in its own way. Thanks for your thoughts Ruth.

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Maybe I'm not understanding what is being said? Is this correct, "It's better to read about science discoveries already made than to reenact them"? Like rather than throw two balls to see that they will land at the same time, we should just read about it because science has already discovered this? And save experimenting for what we don't know. I just want to be sure I'm understanding the ideology correctly. BTW, this sounds like a super fun way to do science. It's getting me all excited. I'm thinking Planet Earth, Let's Read and Find out Science Series, big coffee table books with lots of captions, and fun at the library. We're in a gap year anyway, Kindergarten, so I'm thinking now's my chance to figure out this science thing before the grades start coming on.

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Well, yes that is the way **I** do it, but there are many ways to study science k-8 and there are many different types of learners.

 

I have found that I am not alone in finding that the weekly “experiment” is exhausting for me, and often not very helpful/interesting for my student. It seems like a lot of work for not much payback. So I simply consolidate my hands-on time into a 6-10 week period and do a BIG project.

 

 

Science has 2 main parts: 1) the body of knowledge and 2) the methodology for how to answer scientific questions.

 

 

The weekly “experiments” that are a part of many science curricula try to serve 2 functions simultaneously. They try

 

 

  1. To help students understand the body of knowledge. If you simply cannot believe that 2 balls fall at the same rate, go try it and you will see.
  2. To help students become acquainted with the methodology for how to answer scientific questions.

 

 

Abstract thinkers do not typically require #1. They are the kids who say “do we have to do this?” “I already know what will happen.” In contrast, concrete thinkers often find that the hands-on activities really solidifies their understanding of scientific concepts. Each parent/teacher needs to identify what the child's learning style is, and do what is appropriate for the child.

 

 

Where I struggle with weekly “experiments,” is how they attack #2 – becoming acquainted with the scientific method. The way it typically goes is that the book gives you an activity to do with your children which has expected outcomes that you are trying to achieve. The methods are given to you in a “cook book” style and the student is supposed to write up the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Here are my concerns:

 

  1. Because the question is already posed, the student never learns that science is about asking questions and looking for answers. It is someone else's question they are answering. They are never taught to ask a question of their own. They are never taught that their questions are valid, interesting, and answerable in an objective manner.
  2. Because the methods are already designed, the student never has to puzzle over HOW to answer his/her question. This activity requires logical thinking and problem solving. These weekly demonstrations/activities give the misconception that answering a scientific question is as simple as following the directions, and scientific inquiry is NEVER so simple.
  3. Because the student is looking for a certain result, when the result is not produced, students are taught that they did not get the right answer. This is the antithesis of scientific thinking. Data is data. It is not Wrong. Your hypothesis has just been disproved. These activities teach students that what you expect should happen, should happen, and if it doesn't, you need to do the experiment again and again until you get what you expect. What?!?!? THIS IS NOT SCIENCE.

 

 

So here are some things to think about for your individual student:

 

  1. If your student wants to be a scientist, I would urge you to have him/her do a large independent study at least once before heading to university to major in science. I have met graduate students who are serviously disappointed with their choice of science. They love learning scientific knowledge but don't like scientific inquiry at all. Better to learn early that scientific inquiry is not your thing and go into science writing or something else instead.
  2. If your student is a concrete thinker, do the weekly demonstrations to help solidify his/her understanding of the concepts. But be clear with them that in real scientific inquiry, the questions, methods, and results are not known ahead of time. Then go and read some really good biographies of scientists where the true difficulties are laid out and not sugar coated.
  3. If your student finds that weekly scientific activities are fun and that they are really helping with writing up lab reports etc, then try to get your student to alter the hypothesis slightly. Go a bit further, ask a question that is not in the text. If the question is “does fertilizer help plants grow?” Well, duh, of course it does, everyone knows that. How about “Which fertilizer makes plants grow taller?” This is a much better question, and would still take the same amount of time.
  4. And of course, if you have the time and energy, do a science-fair type project. It is soooooo fun and leads to such unexpected learning!

 

 

I truly believe that scientific inquiry is misunderstood by most of the public. Pseudoscience is elevated to the level of science. Politicians ignore scientific data. The public expects a quick answer to a difficult question or assumes that scientists don't know anything because the facts are always changing. The list could go on and on. These are problems with understanding scientific inquiry, not understanding scientific knowledge. Scientific learning is incredibly important for decision makers and voters alike, which is why I am spending time posting!:D

 

 

Ruth

Edited by lewelma

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Abstract thinkers do not typically require #1. They are the kids who say “do we have to do this?†“I already know what will happen.†In contrast, concrete thinkers often find that the hands-on activities really solidifies their understanding of scientific concepts. Each parent/teacher needs to identify what the child's learning style is, and do what is appropriate for the child.

 

Trying to imagine my son saying, "Do we have to do this?" when I get out the baking soda and vinegar. :lol: I don't know that the hands-on activities add a lot to his understanding, but they certainly add to his enjoyment. There is value in that, too, though the effort and time required has to be considered as well.

 

I've very much been appreciating the discussion on this thread and others -- bookmarking several threads to come back to!

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Well, yes that is the way **I** do it, but there are many ways to study science k-8 and there are many different types of learners.

 

I have found that I am not alone in finding that the weekly “experiment” is exhausting for me, and often not very helpful/interesting for my student. It seems like a lot of work for not much payback. So I simply consolidate my hands-on time into a 6-10 week period and do a BIG project.

 

 

Science has 2 main parts: 1) the body of knowledge and 2) the methodology for how to answer scientific questions.

 

 

The weekly “experiments” that are a part of many science curricula try to serve 2 functions simultaneously. They try

 

 

  1. To help students understand the body of knowledge. If you simply cannot believe that 2 balls fall at the same rate, go try it and you will see.
  2. To help students become acquainted with the methodology for how to answer scientific questions.

 

 

Abstract thinkers do not typically require #1. They are the kids who say “do we have to do this?” “I already know what will happen.” In contrast, concrete thinkers often find that the hands-on activities really solidifies their understanding of scientific concepts. Each parent/teacher needs to identify what the child's learning style is, and do what is appropriate for the child.

 

 

Where I struggle with weekly “experiments,” is how they attack #2 – becoming acquainted with the scientific method. The way it typically goes is that the book gives you an activity to do with your children which has expected outcomes that you are trying to achieve. The methods are given to you in a “cook book” style and the student is supposed to write up the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Here are my concerns:

 

  1. Because the question is already posed, the student never learns that science is about asking questions and looking for answers. It is someone else's question they are answering. They are never taught to ask a question of their own. They are never taught that their questions are valid, interesting, and answerable in an objective manner.
  2. Because the methods are already designed, the student never has to puzzle over HOW to answer his/her question. This activity requires logical thinking and problem solving. These weekly demonstrations/activities give the misconception that answering a scientific question is as simple as following the directions, and scientific inquiry is NEVER so simple.
  3. Because the student is looking for a certain result, when the result is not produced, students are taught that they did not get the right answer. This is the antithesis of scientific thinking. Data is data. It is not Wrong. Your hypothesis has just been disproved. These activities teach students that what you expect should happen, should happen, and if it doesn't, you need to do the experiment again and again until you get what you expect. What?!?!? THIS IS NOT SCIENCE.

 

 

So here are some things to think about for your individual student:

 

  1. If your student wants to be a scientist, I would urge you to have him/her do a large independent study at least once before heading to university to major in science. I have met graduate students who are serviously disappointed with their choice of science. They love learning scientific knowledge but don't like scientific inquiry at all. Better to learn early that scientific inquiry is not your thing and go into science writing or something else instead.
  2. If your student is a concrete thinker, do the weekly demonstrations to help solidify his/her understanding of the concepts. But be clear with them that in real scientific inquiry, the questions, methods, and results are not known ahead of time. Then go and read some really good biographies of scientists where the true difficulties are laid out and not sugar coated.
  3. If your student finds that weekly scientific activities are fun and that they are really helping with writing up lab reports etc, then try to get your student to alter the hypothesis slightly. Go a bit further, ask a question that is not in the text. If the question is “does fertilizer help plants grow?” Well, duh, of course it does, everyone knows that. How about “Which fertilizer makes plants grow taller?” This is a much better question, and would still take the same amount of time.
  4. And of course, if you have the time and energy, do a science-fair type project. It is soooooo fun and leads to such unexpected learning!

 

 

I truly believe that scientific inquiry is misunderstood by most of the public. Pseudoscience is elevated to the level of science. Politicians ignore scientific data. The public expects a quick answer to a difficult question or assumes that scientists don't know anything because the facts are always changing. The list could go on and on. These are problems with understanding scientific inquiry, not understanding scientific knowledge. Scientific learning is incredibly important for decision makers and voters alike, which is why I am spending time posting!:D

 

 

Ruth

 

Okay, this has made things much clearer to me. I used to teach a 14 year old whiz of a kid who was always stumped by the scientific method part, develop a hypothesis. He said he already knew what was going to happen, "It says right there". So that is true. I guess stopping to do a demonstration or show them what we're reading about without going half-way around the world for supplies can just be part of the flow. Goodness knows I've hated filing out a notebook page for every "experiment". It seemed redundant to me and frustrating to early writers. I think reading this thread is gonna change how I home school science as much as reading WTM changed my ways of doing history. And I'm so glad it fits along with the WTM ideology. I'm looking forward to a big project at the end of the school year. You really should write a book about your ways of teaching science or at least a blog. I think it'd be very well received.

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:iagree:

 

I haven't posted on this thread, but I have been following it. I have saved most of this thread to read over the years to come. Thanks.

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And the gems just keep on coming Ruth! ;-) If or when we do a science experiment that is tied to a particular lesson, I am going to try my hardest to make it less obvious to them. With all the reading that I have done of this particular post, I fully understood the reasoning behind a science fair project.. but it never really hit me until now how weekly experiments can skew their entire thought process about what doing real science is about.

Let me get this all straight in my head though. You are not talking about the weekly experiments that are based on 'viewing' the world around them, as looking at plant cells or onion skins under the microscope, or making a habitat diorama, right? What about a question like, "Can I grow mold." In an experiment like this,one would predict that YES you can grow mold. So perhaps the experiment might be, "What conditions are best for growing mold, or something like that?" A few other experiments I have seen (taken from ES Logic Stage Biology) are how does coral grow, can worms mix soil, can I dissolve shrimp shells, frog dissections, which type of fur keeps mammals warmer, which bone breaks easier (chicken thigh bones that has been soaked in vinegar, another bakes in over, another a control). In looking over (and sharing .. hope that's alright Paige!) some of the experiments, it seems like they are designed to get the student to interact with the world around them. I am not seeing a particular mindset within this ES Biology that hand feeds the student the answer, although I do know they are out there. So, my goal to keep in mind, is really to ask myself does this experiment challenge their way of thinking about something, and does it allow THEM to discover the answer for themselves. I am thinking with most of ES Biology the answer is yes, but I may be mistaken in how I am understanding them.

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You know, I love the ideas about doing a *real* science experiment. But for me, doing all those demonstration experiments and projects out of books, is a way to learn how to use the equipment and follow something step by step and write it up. I think this is because I don't have a science background. If I did, I would be able to wing it more. I would know how to use a microscope and how to measure and record observations. So at least for me, I need to start out with the scripted and then learn how to move into the great science fair experiments Ruth is talking about (and believe me I have copied and pasted everything she wrote to print out!). But we have a bunch of science kits and books to work through to get us going and thinking about it.

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Let me start off by saying that no home school can do everything well. We have decided to focus on science instead of history as our main topical area. For history, dh reads to them both living books and history books at night for 30 minutes, and they watch docos. We only dabble in timelines, primary resources, independent research, persuasive essays etc. We do dabble, but it is not our focus. My recommendation is if you can only dabble in true scientific inquiry, that is fine, but do dabble, do not just ignore it.

 

 

Now, I have such a mishmash of answers to questions. No real organization here. Sorry.

 

 

You are not talking about the weekly experiments that are based on 'viewing' the world around them, as looking at plant cells or onion skins under the microscope, or making a habitat diorama, right?
Right. Kids need to see and do and not just read. We are currently studying astronomy, and both boys (7 and 11) have 1) followed the moon for a month, 2) watched the movement of stars around the southern pole for a few hours, 3) observed the change in altitude of the sun at its zenith, and 4) drawn the change in latitude of sunset for a couple of months. My older boy (11) has also done his science workbook's investigations 1) of the terrestrial planets' surfaces. He has compared and contrasted them to earth surface from the point of view of gradation, cratering, volcanism, and tectonics. 2) drawn a scale model of the planets' distance from the sun and a scale model of the diameter of the sun vs different planets., 3) and done a study of how latitude and longitude work both on earth and the celestial sphere. All of these activities have been a part of learning about astronomy and really driving home what just reading won't. But none of them attack the problem of learning about scientific inquiry, they just help in his understanding of the body of scientific knowledge.

 

 

The problem is that many science programs mask of these types of activities in a veil of terminology suggesting that it is true scientific inquiry. Something like:

Question: Does the sun change the angle of its zenith over the year?

Methods: measure the angle of ascent with an astrolabe every 3 days for 1 month and record it on a chart.

Results: you record your results on a table they provide

Conclusions: Yes, the sun changes its angle, because of the tilt of the earth.

 

 

I just would never talk about the scientific activities in that way. Its pretending to be something that it is not. This approach might help to reinforce the pattern of science, but it is done in such a false way as to confuse the student.

 

 

What about a question like, "Can I grow mold." In an experiment like this,one would predict that YES you can grow mold. So perhaps the experiment might be, "What conditions are best for growing mold, or something like that?"
Yes! Even better would be a hypothesis (an educated guess) “I believe that mold grows better in a warm environment.” Then design an experiment. Ask questions: if you put it in the sun, does UV light damage it or does the warmth from sun light help it grow? Perhaps you need a warm dark place also. Then make the child think about what kind of data to collect. How are you going to measure growth? Density of mold, types of mold, surface coverage? How do you measure it objectively? Do you need to make a chart at the beginning to keep you honest in your assessment? Are you taking quantitative measurements (number of patches, number of species), or qualitative measurements (the petri dish is empty, mostly empty, partially full, full). Make the child develop the collection sheet, the table style, the graph style. These things are hard as they force you to really think before you start. THEN start the experiment. You MUST drive home the objective nature of science. This is how it differs from historical research or literary analysis, where a writer has an opinion and supports it with arguments and persuasive writing. In science, you don't get to just think your way to an answer.

 

 

A few other experiments I have seen (taken from ES Logic Stage Biology)
how does coral grow?: this is a demo

can worms mix soil?: duh, yes of course they can. This is a demo. You could change it by comparing how long it takes them to mix different types of soil (clay, sand, compost, etc)

Can I dissolve shrimp shells?: demo, but easy to change to : Which vinegar dissolves shells faster?

frog dissections: this is a technique lab used to teach methodology and equipment (see below)

Which type of fur keeps mammals warmer?: not sure how this one is done unless you have your own pets.

Which bone breaks easier? (chicken thigh bones that has been soaked in vinegar, another bakes in over, another a control) – This could be a true experiment if you have not already studied what the answer could be. Like the control, very nice.

 

Remember demos are fine as long as the child knows it is a demonstration of a scientific fact or principle that is known to exist that you are trying to observe.

 

But for me, doing all those demonstration experiments and projects out of books, is a way to learn how to use the equipment and follow something step by step and write it up.
Yes, there are labs that are designed just for kids to learn how to use scientific equipment or to understand a method of study. Typical examples of equipment: Microscopes, telescopes, measuring with beakers, rulers, pipets, thermometers, rain guage. Typical examples of methods of study: transects for counting things, mushroom prints for identifying mushrooms, scratch test to determine a rock's hardness, iodine to identify starch, etc. Methods of study often mascaraed as true science, But in the end these are just tools to be used to answer questions. You don't just learn how to use a saw, but never build a table. Do these labs, just make sure you clarify that these are tools that scientists use to answer questions. Then, try to answer a question yourself. For example, learn the iodine trick for finding starch, and then run around the house testing stuff – cotton socks? Paper? Lentils? (Don't pick something obvious like bread, because that's boring, but you could ask which type of bread has more starch in it.

 

 

This is because I don't have a science background. If I did, I would be able to wing it more. I would know how to use a microscope and how to measure and record observations. So at least for me, I need to start out with the scripted.
Yes, use the script. Then just twist it a little bit to ask your own question. Also, you can learn scientific inquiry using the Social Sciences. Questions like: Why is there congestion on the streets at noon everyday? Do home school students prefer to study longer for 4 days or shorter for 5 days? What age do parents feel comfortable leaving their children at home alone? Now plan an systematic way to collect data that would answer your question. Social sciences often use surveys, which are very fun to design.

 

 

In the end, what is the true purpose of studying scientific inquiry? I mean, really, why bother to make the effort? Here is my attempt to be persuasive:

 

  1. Your student needs to be able to identify pseudo-science masquerading as science. Their mantra needs to be “show me the data.” Magnets in water? Tuning forks to cure migraines? Not only will they use their scientific knowledge to identify the idiocy of many claims, they will also use their understanding of the scientific process to question and doubt claims that are unsubstantiated. Many of these claims are health related, so not only will this understanding save them money but also possibly their health.
  2. You student will one day be a voter. There are many scientific issues in the news that influence elections. And there is soooo much misinformation. Can your student independently evaluate claims or are they completely reliant on the very biased news to interpret science for them?
  3. When they get a job, they will likely deal with scientists or social scientists. Lawyers and doctors rely on scientists and statisticians regularly. Workers in business or government deal with social scientist all the time. You need to know what these people are doing. You cannot just nod your head and smile.
  4. Your student needs a general understanding of how difficult scientific inquiry is, and how time consuming, and often how expensive. Also, scientific research is falsifiable. When scientists say that they were wrong, this is not because they were idiots. It does not mean that you should not trust them in the future. When earthquake scientists in Italy missed an earthquake, is it really fair to put them on trial for manslaughter of failing to warn residents? Or is science probabilistic? Why are we not sure if a faster than light particle was found? Why do we need to replicate it? These issues are in the news, and all educated individuals need to understand scientific inquiry to really get it.

 

 

OK, now I will get off my high horse and go to bed.

 

 

Ruth

Edited by lewelma
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Wow ... Ruth, I think we just need to have our own show. I will ask questions, and you can answer them. This could keep us on the air for quite a while. ha. By that time you will have written a book! ;-) (By the way .. you really need to)

 

We also seem to be on a pattern of concentrating more on science in our home. My understanding of your last post is that demonstration experiments are fine and have their place, but true science is about questioning an unknown, and figuring out the best method for documenting it. Now I need to learn more about the documenting part .. all the charts, graphs, etc. as options. That is not something we have done before.

 

Also, I understand how logic could be (and should be) carried over to include science. I suspect that one would need to practice the art of logical science inquiry, just as they would regular logic, in order to be able to fully grasp what someone is trying to 'sell' them. This would also be applicable in understanding what scientists in a particular field of study are working on and how it might relate back to you.

 

I am just wondering if your thought process is indicative of most every scientist, and what they go through. It must be, but I can't understand why so many curriculums fail to provide this direction. I guess for non-scientists like myself, the demo experiments and learning to work equipment is a place to start. I do think some curriculums (BFSU and ES... perhaps others that I haven't looked at) do move you in the correct direction. I know that your idea about a science project, along with ES having time allotted for a science fair project, was the first time I had read about that. But, I am uninformed, and perhaps not the best one to speak on the subject. All that said, if we all are so blown away by this information then it must be something 'new' to us, something we are not reading about. I just can't understand why.

 

Anyway, very interesting. I don't think we have tapped your brain completely Ruth, but I know you must be tired. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your time and energy on answering our questions.

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Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank! I'm getting a great deal of challenging information from these posts. My oldest has never cared for science so we go a minimal route with him, but my middle has wanted to be a scientist from the day he could talk. He even started crying one day because he realized he was only doing experiments everyone else had done.

 

We have been doing Great Science Adventures this year with him. (along with a couple of other things) After every "experiment", he is supposed to come up with his own question to answer and design his own experiment using something he learned or observed from the original. To be honest, I've skipped over that part a bit because it just seems a little hard for me, but we're going to start on that for him. He loves a good challenge to his thinking. :)

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I am just wondering if your thought process is indicative of most every scientist, and what they go through. It must be, but I can't understand why so many curriculum fail to provide this direction.

 

In contrast to writing and history, science is new. The scientific method was really started only in the late Victorian period, so we are talking 130 years ago. There is no 2000 year old progymnasmata to mine for good ways to teach it. And science in K-8? When did we start teaching science to kids? I don't know for sure, but I thought it was in the 1960s with Sputnik. There has just not been enough time to come up with a good method. Also, in contrast to writing and math, science is a constantly moving target, making it very challenging for the teaching community to come to an agreement for a good way to teach it.

 

 

I also think that a lot of curriculum do encourage students to do real investigations. (I know that Prentice Hall does, and you have said BFSU and ES do, and musicmommy said that Great Science Adventures does.) But I think it is like those math challengers at the end of each chapter, teachers just never assign them because they are hard, and there is a lot of content to cover that will be on the test. But problem solving is THE most important thing in math. If you cannot turn words and thoughts into mathematical statements, you cannot use your computation and algebra skills in real life. But yet, we all skip those math challengers, just like we all skip the true scientific inquiry recommendations. They just take up too much time for the perceived benefit.

 

 

There are also different ways to teach science. I think it is very comparable to SWB's discussion of teaching grammar (in the early grades writing lecture). There are two camps: teach grammar early for more years, or wait until high school and do it more quickly. She is in the early camp, believing that grammar is like a foreign language and there is a time when the mind is receptive. Comparatively, I am firmly in the camp of teaching true scientific inquiry to students when young, because the scientific thought process is harder to incorporate into your thinking if you are introduced to it at a later age.

 

 

Teaching kids about inquiry is easier when they are young because kids naturally ask questions all the time (for my kids, really all the time). Teens and adults quit asking questions, they just accept that "that is the way it is." Here are 2 of my kids' questions from yesterday. 1) Why are the new spring leaves (yes it is spring here) paler than the evergreens. The younger one hypothesized that they had less of that green stuff that makes food (chlorophyll) in them. Ok, very very easy to test. Go get both kinds of leaves and put them under the microscope and count the chlorophyll. Question #2) When do think is the best time to pick up money off the street? (this made me laugh) We are having the Rugby World Cup here and live 6 blocks from the big block party and are on the hill so we can see it. They have found money on the street before, (yes drunk people drop it). So, this is easy to test. Go up and down the street at 3 different times in the day and see when you find the most money. Don't just guess. Make a hypothesis and TEST your ideas. It really is not hard. You just have to listen to their questions. “Why is the sky blue?†is not a question you can test. But “do bees visit the yellow flowers more than the white ones?†is.

 

 

I have also seen, in my lifetime, the proliferation of pseudo-science. Ideas masquerading as science which have no data to support them. I have friends who pay good money for stuff that is fake. Then, they tell me, well it worked for a friend. They have no idea the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientifically tested ideas. Anecdotal evidence is what leads a scientist to make a hypothesis and then test it (with replication, a control, and statistical analysis) to see if he/she is right or wrong. The proliferation of pseudo-science tells me that science is becoming more and more important, and marketers and individuals realize that if they couch their ideas in “scientific speak†more people will believe them. And because people don't study scientific inquiry, they do!

 

 

Ok, enough for now. I'm guessing that you won't be surprised to find out that school holidays started 2 days ago so I have more time on my hands than I usually do.

 

 

Ruth

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I am just trying to picture your budding trees as I look out my window at the orange pumpkins we are about to harvest. You are on the bottom of the world Ruth!! How the heck did you get down there!? Don't you know you are going to fall off? he he See... I still have a lot to learn. I am grateful for all the information, and I know everyone else is as well. ;-)

Edited by SaDonna

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I am just wondering if your thought process is indicative of most every scientist, and what they go through. It must be, but I can't understand why so many curriculums fail to provide this direction. I guess for non-scientists like myself, the demo experiments and learning to work equipment is a place to start. I do think some curriculums (BFSU and ES... perhaps others that I haven't looked at) do move you in the correct direction. I know that your idea about a science project, along with ES having time allotted for a science fair project, was the first time I had read about that. But, I am uninformed, and perhaps not the best one to speak on the subject. All that said, if we all are so blown away by this information then it must be something 'new' to us, something we are not reading about. I just can't understand why.

.

 

I too was/is a scientist in a previous life. :001_smile: Unfortunately, I'm no where near as articulate as Ruth!!!! Your posts are extremely valuable to this community.

 

Sadonna - I'll give you a few examples. My DS, then maybe 8yrs old, had the question 'Does hot water cool down at the same rate that cold water warms up." I asked him how he could test this. He came up w/ boiling water and using cold water and measuring the temp. I suggested he use our LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. He wrote a program to monitor the temp over time and save it to a text file. Dh then helped him to download the data to Excel and graph the data. Now of course, scientists know the answer to the question but DS did not so that was original inquiry for him. He had a great time looking collecting the data, graphing it and making a poster of it. He then presented his data to a group of engineers that we knew.

 

A lot of time we design experiments but don't actually do them. :lol::001_huh: DS might come up w/ a question, we discuss what controls you would need why, and if the data came out XYZ what that might indicate or if the data came out ABC that might mean something else etc. Some times we don't have the equipment etc or time or energy but I feel there is value in going through the thought process. Sometimes it is just pure observation. I remember when he was 5yrs old. We were outside walking the snow. DS wondered what all the holes were in the snow. I asked him to come up w/ some hypotheses. He thought there were animal tracks but couldn't think of any animal that would make such holes. He came up w/ other guesses that by asking further questions of him, he was able to eliminate them. We looked for animal remains, directionality, depth etc. Finally, after some time, I just nonchalantly looked up at a bird. Then DS saw the icicles hanging from the tree. We looked at them and noticed they were wet. DS then observed them, watched a tiny drop formed on the end....and plop......another hole.

 

As far as "real scientists," I can share what we did in my lab way back in the day. I was an immunologist. We studied cells of the immune system and what activates them. So you might take the RNA repertoire from a cell that is not activated and see how the RNA repertoire from a cell that is activated differs. So an unactivated cell might have RNA A,B,C,F but an activated cell will have A,C,F,G,H,I. You then figure out the DNA sequence for RNA G,H,I. So you'd hypothesize, "We have cloned Gene G from an activated T cell. We think this gene is involved in regulating how T cells stay activated based on this sequence which is related to the Gene longevity found in Drosophila (a fly)." Then you would design experiments to see if Protein G behaves like Protein longevity. Perhaps scientist find that Protein Longevity requires Mg++ atom to function. Does Protein G require Mg++? If you get a negative answer, you can't draw any conclusions b/c it could be that human T cells have something else that Gene G needs that Drosophila doesn't. You might postulate that the protein encoded by Gene G is involved in binding sugars. You'd design experiments to see what sugars, if any, Gene G binds to and under what conditions. You'd read the literature on protein binding to sugars and replicate those w/ your protein. You'd be sure to use positive controls to make sure your experiment is working. You'd also be sure to include negative controls as well. Suppose you get a positive answer that Protein G binds to sugars. Then based on the location in the body of the sugar protein G binds to, you can then postulate the role. If that sugar is only found in gut mucosa, then you would go in that direction. Or if that sugar is found only in the brain, that would lead you in another direction. If that sugar is only found on the bacterial cell wall, you'd go in that direction.

 

Ok I'm exhausted. Perhaps this makes no sense. If it doesn't, please tell me and I will try to explain further.

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Your posts are extremely valuable to this community.

 

Thanks for this.

 

scientists know the answer to the question but DS did not so that was original inquiry for him.

yes, I completely agree with this.

 

A lot of time we design experiments but don't actually do them. :lol::001_huh:

We do the same thing. We did not go down and look for money 3 different times during the day, and then replicate it for 4 weekends, as we designed!

 

Perhaps this makes no sense. If it doesn't, please tell me and I will try to explain further.

 

Makes sense to me.:001_smile: I love to see what people have done in their past. I worked in an immunology lab for 2 summers during college, and did AIDS research. I don't remember much except the tiny guillotines used to chop off the mice's heads. :tongue_smilie:

 

I have also been thinking more about SaDonna's question about why she does not see more original inquiry in science curriculum. I will hypothesize (since we are talking science) that homeschool curriculum are based off of regular school approaches. I think that it would be very hard to do 30 different science fair projects with 30 different kids in a class. But having said that, I have experience with only 3 school situations. 1) In NZ, 7th and 8th graders in most schools do a science fair project either every year or every other year, and the winners go to the regional fair (where I see their work). 2) My sister teaches science in a ritzy private school in KY, and all students grades 3 to 12 do a science fair project every year. 3) My other sister's kids are in public school in well-off area in VA, and her kids do a science fair project every year starting in 6th. So, considering my 3 examples, I think perhaps more of this is happening than we think, but possibly more often in the "better" schools in the US.

 

Off to a BBQ on a lovely Spring evening (with the noise from the Rugby World Cup party as background music to our ears:glare:).

 

Ruth

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