Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Setting up the Science Lab

My recent posts about science teaching probably seem peculiar to middle school and high school teachers who specialize in the subject, however as an elementary school teacher who has to morph her general education classroom into a science lab several times a week, the posts are the directions I seek when it comes to improving science education at the elementary level.

Today I'll spend my prep time and more setting up the science lab for tomorrow's exploration. What does that specifically mean?

Website Prep
I updated the science website with the information I'll use to lead the lab. The website is available to students at any time to review or enrich their science study.

Student Science Folders and Science Notebooks
Students will bring their science notebooks and folders to class. They will bring their notebooks back and forth to their homeroom, but store their science folders in their personal math/science drawer in the clasroom.

Lab Report
Utilizing information from a number of resources including the system's core FOSS science program, I created a lab report template to lead students through the expected explorations as well as to give them space to record their findings.

Role Cards and TeamFolders
Students have been placed into teams and each team has a lab table in the classroom. At the start of the lesson students will receive their team folder including the lab reports and team role cards. Students will choose roles and then review the lab report with the teacher prior to starting the explorations.

Supply Table
Supplies for the exploration will be set up on the supply the table. Supplies for this exploration are numerous including the following:
  • one tray
  • screen
  • funnel
  • bottle w/cap
  • scale, weights
  • gravel
  • powder
  • salt
  • syringe
  • pitcher of water
  • teaspoon
  • container of wipes to clean up the table
  • 3 teaspoon, wipes
  • 3 plastic cups
  • 5 stickers
  • sharpie
  • one balloon for each student on your team
Presentation Space
The presentation space will be set up so that I can guide students work using the white board, website, and overhead projector.

Lab Table Prep
Students will prepare the learning spaces by removing their daily supply caddies and storing those on a cozy chair near their table, and covering the tables with the vinyl sunflower table cloths.

Science Library
Science reading and research materials will be stored in a "science library" container for student reference and review. 

Apt science prep is an important part of teaching science well. That prep takes time and organization. The new science standards have meant that elementary educators have to think differently about their learning/teaching spaces, storage, professional learning, and prep. This marks a transition for all of us who are working to better teach science at the elementary level. Overall, as noted previously, this is a positive transition motivated mainly by students' tremendous enthusiasm for the subject.