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Friday, July 08, 2016

Developing Naturalist Study 2016-2017

Update: Note that this was the expected curriculum, but some changes from the district leadership prevented this plan in its entirety.

Fortunately our state science standards at fifth grade support naturalist study. Further, and most importantly, students' natural curiosity supports this study too. And, our world needs naturalists to solve the problems of our day--problems of air, water, and soil quality, food systems, the effects of population density, and global warming.

Last year our students engaged in many, naturalist education efforts--efforts will continue with some possible enriching revision. Those events included the following:
  • Water conservation introduction and STEAM study 
  • Living Systems: Wayland Green Team Presentation, NASA presentation
  • Composting: Framingham Transition Presentation
  • River/Watershed Habitat Study/Field Experience
  • Raising endangered spadefoot toad tadpoles
Next year, we hope to add the following:
  • Greater attention to the use of technology to study nature including information in this Edutopia article.
  • Worm composting led by Wayland's Green Team
I'm also considering an afterschool naturalist club. One that will create a naturalists' path in our school's surrounding forests and wetlands. 

In the days ahead, I'll add to this post, but for the time being, our naturalist and other science coordination with state standards and community events will follow a path like the draft below:

Science Study 2015-2016 Draft

Possible Order of Topics/Activities

An Earth-Friendly Classroom - how can we make this happen, what can we do?
Focus on the Imagination Foundation - object of service learning.

The TEAM in STEAM: Global Cardboard Challenge
Creating STEAM/Math Teams, working on what it means to be a team.
Bring in old games, take them apart--think about what makes those games fun, how they are built, what you notice prior to global cardboard challenge. Draw sketches of how the toy works. Rube Goldberg sketches/marble maze run fits this too. 

Everybody Can Learn.
Understanding how our brains work. 

What is a plant? How does a plant feed itself?
Activity: planting seeds of small plants for future biodomes.

- planting bulbs might fit well here
- creating biodomes, homes for small creatures (insects) 

Where is Earth located? What is Earth’s relationship to the sun, stars, other planets?
  • Reading, Writing, and Research: Studying standards, writing a children’s book that includes diagrams. Using tech sites for diagram graphics. Reading the science children’s book to younger children.
  • Field Study: Trip to McAuliffe Space Center
  • STEAM: Creating Biodomes (a biodome is one way that people will be able to live in space)
  • McAuliffe Center trip is planned
What is Composting and Why should we do it?
  • Activity: Worm composting with Wayland Green Team’s, Mr. Tiberri
  • Writing: Persuasive Essay: Why should all families compost?
  • Science Research: Biodome exploration including water cycle, energy cycle. 
  • Speakers: Kaat Vander Straeten - systems and ecology (Wayland’s Green Team), Framingham Transition- composting talk
  • Additional Focus: TeamFive is a Green Team--how can we better do this - related activity, perhaps a school assembly presentation???
January - March
What is Matter? How and when does Matter react?
Activity: Discovery Museum? Visit to Science Museum?
Activity: Matter experiments
Math Connection: Fractions/Measurement activities related to matter experiments.

April: Science Review of All Concepts Taught K-5 for MCAS
April - June
What is a watershed? Why do watersheds matter to us?
Activities: Great Meadows, Hike to Sudbury River, Local nature walks with high schoolers, raising endangered spadefoots.
Research/Writing: A guide to the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers - collaborative teamwork
Speakers: Grassroots Wildlife Conservation Biologist
Research: All reading/research related to MCAS done upfront.
STEAM: Water filtering, Oil Spill Clean-Up

Human Body System
  • Introduction to reproductive system/puberty.