“Science is cool!” This statement is from the mouths of lower school boys here at Gilman. They have enjoyed so many “cool” things in science classes from kindergarten through fifth grade over the years. Recently, due to the retirement of long-time science teacher Mrs. Olgierson, I have been able to immerse myself into our science program. Lucky me. Not only is science cool, but also it is really fun! Building on an already good program, I have collaborated with Mrs. Rizzuto, who teaches science to our boys in grades four and five, to construct lesson plans that use the scientific process to take a question, make a hypothesis, conduct an experiment, record data, and make an analysis.
Even our youngest students have followed this procedure to study the mysteries of life. Our pre-first boys have recently learned the value of washing hands and feet. We asked, “How do germs spread and grow?” We then took glitter-covered hands and saw the “residue” left behind every touch and handshake. Today we pondered what bacteria lives between our toes. We are looking to “grow” bacteria in petre dishes over the next few days. We will record our results and make observations. I think we will all agree that cleanliness is important for good health!
Our slightly older grades are learning how important the steps of the scientific method are as they record a hypothesis, data, and observations on carefully constructed worksheets. They are responsible for good scientific thinking and encouraged to explore many “what if’s” and “maybe that happened because” possibilities. Second grade is looking at what makes up soil and wondering if soil is different depending on the location. They will analyze soil samples from around the area and compare their results. Looking at the ground beneath our feet will lead to an exploration of plate tectonics using graham crackers and icing, and the creation of a volcano!
Third grade is looking at what makes a good insulator. Does fur, rubber, newspaper, or bubble wrap hold in the heat best when wrapped around a container of hot water? The classroom was a-buzz today with ideas and observations. I let them know that I spent a good bit of money this Christmas on very fancy water bottles/thermos that keep drinks the same temperature for 24 hours. Clearly, some scientist is benefiting from discoveries made using the scientific method. Our boys are learning how scientific ideas can lead to new, valuable discoveries. Maybe I will be purchasing my student’s fancy thermos design or a well -insulated fleece jacket prototype in the future. They certainly think so- our boys are smart, ambitious, and confident!
As I wrap up this snowy winter blog post, I look at the piles of science books I brought home today. Being hunkered down in a blizzard will give me lots of time to explore scientific method ideas for our warm, spring days ahead. I have no doubt our boys will show just as much enthusiasm for these new lessons in botany, space, and simple machines. Look for more pictures and science stories to come!
I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.
- If you are in Kindergarten- What are you learning in language arts about “explode the code”? What new songs are you learning with Mrs. M this week?
- If you are in Pre-First- How were you using string between your toes to test for germs and bacteria in science class? What book did your guest reader- Ms. Outlaw – read to you this week?
- If you are in First Grade- What happened when you made a tornado in science class? What are typical wind speeds during a tornado? How is your mitten story coming?
- If you are in Second Grade- What story did you write about snow? Are you excited about your immigration unit? Did you learn about an emigrant vs an immigrant?
- If you are in Third Grade- What is a good conductor of heat and what makes a good insulator of heat? How do you know? How is your speech coming for the wax museum? Did you finish your backdrop with Ms. Knipp? What did you include?
- If you are in Fourth Grade- How is your report on inventions coming? What were you observing under a microscope this week in science?
- If you are in Fifth Grade- Have you been working on your bridge? What type of bridge were you learning about and experimenting with this week in science? What impact did the Holocaust speaker have on you this week? Can you even imagine what it must have been like to see so much human suffering and still remain positive about human nature?