Have you heard the term “trying to squeeze blood from a turnip”? I think many teachers are feeling that way now because of all the Standards, tests, and expanding curriculum. Last summer there was a report about falling science scores in the United States. Well, guess what? Teachers are doing the very BEST they can and there are only so many minutes in the school day! Although I can’t do anything about your situation, I do have a win/win idea for science. This will spark children’s interest in science, engage families, and empower children to become self-directed learners.
Scientist of the Week
Write a letter similar to the one below and send it home with a different child each Monday. You could create a backpack for the “Scientist of the Week” with a magnifying glass, magnet, field guide book, spiral notebook, pencil, safety goggles, lab coat, and a book of science experiments. (My February, 2010, website has some experiments you could copy.)
Your child has been selected as “Scientist of the Week.” Please help your child choose an experiment to present to the class on Thursday. You will find some science experiments in this bag, but it might be fun for you and your child to go to the library or search on the internet. Help your child practice the experiment several times so she’ll feel confident when she does it in front of her classmates. We will have “The Scientist of the Week” at 2:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon and we’d love for you to join us.
Hint! If you are in a school where family participation is a struggle, perhaps you could let a 4th or 5th grade student buddy help a different child each week.
*To encourage informative writing, children could have science journals where they draw pictures or write observations of the presentations.
Here is another super science idea that a teacher shared.
Ask students to bring in an old white dress shirt. (You could also purchase these at a thrift store.) Cut the sleeves off the shirts and let the children write their names on the pocket. (You could let them write “Dr. Child’s name.”) Whenever you do science, let the children put on their lab coats like real scientists. Relate how you can observe, make hypotheses, predict, experiment, do research, and record data just like real scientists.
*When studying insects refer to the children as “etymologists” or call them “geologists” when you study rocks.