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Showing posts with label variables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label variables. Show all posts

March Madness Begins...

March is a long month for me. Winter can be done and Spring break seems sooooo far away. However, each March our family sets up brackets for March Madness for a little friendly...yet competitive March Madness Challenge! We always pick our teams and see who wins March Madness! Competition is healthy...so I love at times to create so fun engaging STEM competitions!

Starting on March 13th this year and going until April 2nd, college basketball teams compete for the chance to win the national championship which starts with 68 teams! This is a great time to add a little sports challenge to recess, after school, or even in math! This can be done with some fun and engaging competitions!

Challenge 1:

Basketball Percentages and Pie graphs

  • Each student has 10 tried to make baskets. Record out of 10 how many shots were made. Allow them to divide by 10 to make a pie graph or record percentages. This is also a perfect way to add mean, median, mode, and range!
Challenge 2:

STEM Challenges

  • Catapults and Basketball hoops are a perfect way to have them writing how to's. They can create a basketball game that has someone coming to their "court" to play, but they must write directions on how to score, how they win, how what supplies they must use...
  • Allowing students flexibility in their catapult designs helps them create unique game pieces. Here are some of our examples: 
What are the materials that you will need to make hoops?

Prosthetic hand...

straws -cardboard pieces -string -plastic spoons -binder clips -toilet paper tubes -cotton balls for basketball -baskets/buckets

Basketball Hoops...

-masking tape -cups (different kinds) -cardboard pieces -popsicle sticks -pipe cleaners -straws 
Sports Science Pack

Basketball Free Throw Shooter ...
-tongue depressors -popsicle sticks -binder clips all sizes -rubber bands -plastic spoons -masking tape

Challenge 3

 Reading and Writing Lessons:

Last week of February:
Persuasive writing essay convincing class to read your favorite book. Advertisement: create a poster to advertise your book

First Week of March Battle of the books start.

Battle of the Books Link

Students can share their essay and poster. The class can vote on the Sweet 16 that will make it to the tournament.

Throughout March Students continue to read and clock their pages read. If you have AR tests, you can include this in your overall score

Looking for the complete pack? STEM March Madness Pack is ready and waiting for you! 3 STEM stations, sheets, writing connections and more! Or if you are looking for a sports theme with a science twist...STEM Sports Stations! Options are always good!

                              Sports Science Pack
Hoop Happiness!

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Science Weekly Digital and STEM Fun!

My week begins on a Tuesday...yes not Monday...Tuesday. Why? Well we are on a day one through five schedule not day of the week schedule. So it is Tuesday and I wanted to share with you what my week looks like! Getting ready for the kiddos this weekend! I love using digital resources to help my littles show me what they know!


We are starting our first week of wrap ups on our five senses. To use all five senses we are using popcorn to do that! I will be starting with them at the carpet as I review our senses we already used. (I have the popper started!) All of a sudden we hear something! Then...smell something. By that time they figure out what we are making and we then go to the table that is a safe distance away from touching something hot.

While we wait for the popcorn to cool down we meet at the carpet area to use our popcorn slides as a review. They love being able to come to the board and move the pictures to show what sense we use when we see a magic word such as hot or salty.

When they are done, I send them back to their desks to get a cup of popcorn after I salt and butter it. We start with one sense at a time...with tasting being the last sense! As they use each sense I write down on our anchor chart the property words to describe each one.

I give them a popcorn shape to draw one or more ways they use their senses when it comes to popcorn! I play popcorn music as they work!

We finish up with a short story by Frank Asch called of course...Popcorn!

First Graders: 

This week in first grade, we continue to work with vertebrate. We are learning about Amphibians! My favorite thing to do is find a song that we can learn or listen to that will help us retain information! The amphibian song is one of my favorites...but before we start that we talk about what makes us a mammal. I show them pictures of amphibians and I ask them to tell me what they see. Do the animals have fur or hair...give live birth...Then I show the fun song...

We then create the beginning of our anchor chart. What animals did we hear about in our song? We then move onto our non-fiction book, What is An Amphibian? from Epic Books...free for teachers! We then play a game...Is it an amphibian? If it is...they hop like a frog!

We follow it up with a writing and assessment sheet found in my Animal Classifications Pack that is continually getting updated as I add more ideas and activities!

Animal Classification Pack: Mammals, Amphibians, Reptiles, Fish, and Birds!

When we get done we color a salamander pattern that I found on line!

2nd Grade:

We are using our FOSS Air and Weather Kit. I need to follow a road map that indicates which lesson I should be on at a given times so that our eight other Science Educators and I can cover the same "Big Ideas". At times, I can find ways to add some STEM activities that tie in what we are learning about such as last week's parachute lesson and a Jack and the Beanstalk connection...however this week is air pressure. Not quite as exciting for an hour long class. So, sometimes I just can't make my own extras I call upon the help of Ms. Frizzle! I found a perfect video...Goes On Air... and sheet from Scholastic along with our FOSS syringe lesson. This is okay for me because they can't watch videos in their rooms due to the strict road map they are on for virtually everything. I am glad that I have that flexibility!  Here is the link for the video: Magic School Bus Goes On Air. Here is the Scholastic Classroom Activity Site: Scholastic Magic School Bus Activity Page.

3rd Grade: 

Once again FOSS gets me...we are using our mock rocks to learn about crystals. I brought in a crystal for them to see...we read a crystal book from Epic Books called What Are Crystals...ok I just skimmed and paraphrased for them. That is the beauty of using the smart board to project stories. (As a science teacher with no transition time, I can even put on the read the book to me button at times, allowing me to set up supplies on tables).

Once we are done with an intro to crystals, we review what a geologist is and what they do. Geologists use different experiments and techniques to break apart rocks or look more closely at what they are made of. We share how our mock rocks are used to compare what geologists do to real rocks and then we look at our vials to see what ingredients I might have put in our "recipe". I stress the idea of a recipe so they know that rocks are more than one ingredient and minerals are only one ingredient...just like a recipe.

We discuss evaporation, which I taught last year. We then do the FOSS lesson, but we use our iPads to take pictures and not draw the vial. Once done with the writing, this helps me get them finished...I then let them come to the crystal table which has hand lenses set out as well as the identification chart. We need evidence as to why I put in the ingredient I did! How do you know...is the big question of the day!

We celebrate our learning by eating a bit of rock candy and writing in our crystal ball! Here is the sheet that we used! Enjoy the quick and easy freebie I use with crystals to check for understanding. I take a picture of this with my iPad, then air drop it to them. They put it into Explain Everything!
Free Crystal (Ball) Facts Sheet

Fourth Grade:

We just finished up on our FOSS lessons with magnets. This week, we are reviewing with magnet stations! I set up eight stations that I made in my Magnet Pack using all of the supplies from my FOSS magnet kit, however I also use other supplies that I have for this unit to add some added magnets and magnet toys. Once they are done reviewing they assess their effort and then we review the answers. This helps them focus on getting a certain amount done in the time they have to finish the stations and it also helps my lower level learners understand and review what they might not know yet. Take a look at the stations in action!
I love these Magnet Stations Found HERE! They keep our FOSS magnet lesson more engaging and allow for more assessments!
Fifth Grade:

We are learning about life boats so what a perfect time for this History minor to teach a history lesson! I give each fifth grader a steerage ticket that I made as they walk in the room...of course to the Titanic Theme Song as an instrumental.

I let them pick from my hand to get their fate. First class has nice cushioned chairs and a glass of water. I get them their supplies all ready as well and they sit up front. My second class ticket holders sit at tables away from the front and get pencils, and the third class passengers sit on the floor in the back and share a few pencils between them. They love it!

I use the Book National Geographic Titanic to read to them on the smart board, which once again is from  Epic Books! Once done, we discuss what a life boat is and what capacity means. We share what we know about boat size and capacity! I get them all together and we watch a quick video on what happened on the Titanic and the capacity of the life boats that were launched. It is a perfect connector!

I then share that we are making our own life boats using a controlled experiment model.  I give them each a piece of aluminum foil the same size, the variable how they build and form the boat. We then test how many "penny passengers" fit in the life boat. What a great STEM lesson to tie it all together!

Next week, our FOSS life boat lesson and another STEM project found in my Titanic Pack!
Find the STEM Titanic Pack HERE

So that is my week in review. I didn't mention yet that I am also teaching an after school STEM class...that will be another post this next week!

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Scientific Process and M & M's

Teaching science is such a great job! I get to create, explore, discover, build and so much more every day along with my students! One of the most important concepts that I need to cover to start off each year with success is to teach the scientific process.

It's hard to believe that we are over a month into a new school year, but this time I had to plan for a new group of students to join me in my NEW science room! This year, I wanted to create something that could start off my FOSS Variables Unit that would capture their attention...help them discover new vocabulary...and get them thinking!

Why teach the Scientific Process at the beginning of the School Year?
The scientific process or scientific method is the foundation of science and what all content that you teach builds off of. Take for example my first FOSS Magnetism and Electricity lesson. The students explore and learn what a magnet is and what it is attracted to. By using the scientific method...we ask a question...(What is attracted to a magnet?)  Scientists are naturally curious about the world around them. Let the students then form questions! Once they do that they can form a hypothesis...conduct and experiment, and then analyse the data and draw conclusions!  Presto! You have the process laid out for them!

Again, this sets the foundation for all of your questions and experiments that follow!

What are the parts of the Scientific Process?
1. Purpose/Question: State the purpose or question you want to answer.
2. Research: Find out more about the topic.
3. Hypothesis: Predict the outcome of the problem/question.
4. Experiment: Develop procedures to test your hypothesis.
5. Analysis: Record the results of the experiment.
6. Conclusion: Compare the hypothesis with your results and come up with a conclusion based on your results. It is always a bonus to share what others have found out as well!

How can I help my students to understand the process?
There are some great ideas out there. I love Pinterest, but here are some ideas that I implement in my classroom:
  • post the scientific process in the room to refer back to it every time there is an experiment.
  • have students post the scientific process in their notebooks to refer back to.
  • a "hook" lesson to get them excited about learning the process!
  • QR code review game to check for understanding
  • a video that shares the vocabulary that we are learning (I included the video I use in class below)

Where can you get your M & M pack? Follow the link right here to help you teach the scientific process or to add to your Variable Unit today!


I am Thankful For Teaching Science

Every day that I come to school, I hear teachers frustrated with the new math and reading programs. Their canned lessons do not allow for creativity and the joy of reading at times is being sucked right out of the classrooms.  I see teachers testing each week and progress monitoring ALL the time. I watch them as they drop off my kids and routinely say, "at least they will have some fun in science today...". I feel so fortunate to teach science to over 400 Kindergarten through 5th graders at my school. I guess I have made it my personal mission to bring joy...creativity...imagination... challenges... and hands on learning to each lesson I create each week.

Now...let me tell you...it isn't always easy.  I have a road map to follow with FOSS as my main lesson. The science teachers that teach the same lessons...now have a common assessment...so I do have to stick to the plan...but.....

it is really how I deliver it to my kiddos. Calcite detectives sure sounds better than we are now doing the calcite test.   Adding a fossil lesson to our Earth Materials lessons sure pays off...with Harbor Freight puzzles for 2.00 and the EPIC Book... Each team got a bucket of sand with the puzzle pieces in it. They had to dig for the bones...figure out what dinosaur they found...then just like the book make sure different people had jobs! The curators got to work setting up a museum for the dinosaur. It was EPIC!

Digging For Bones!
Researchers trying to identify their find...

The paleontologists putting their puzzle together!
 The excitement was contagious.  I am thankful that I am able to find ways to make connections with my FOSS lessons. Take for example the catapult lesson. Can be ok, but if kids know the background of catapults and then have a reason to learn about the variables so that they can storm the castle...well now we are talking. Here is the introduction video I used...they loved it!
Now for the connections...
Their castle calculations...what variables will they use to scale the castle walls?

The finished castles...

               These resources can be found in my Variable Pack...check it out at TPT. I also made a new STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Pack along with five other STEM packs. I did this primarily because my teachers are able to have a 45 minute reward time twice a month and they needed some easy ideas. They are so excited to be able to add STEM into their classrooms and allow the students to learn and have fun! Here is the pack we are using this month!

What are you thankful for? I am thankful for everyone that comes to visit the Science School Yard. Let me know if there is anything you ever need!

Lifeboat Engineering Challenge

This week, after learning about the Titanic...we did our FOSS lifeboat lesson. Why do we start it off with the Titanic? To make history connections with science and make it meaningful to why we are making lifeboats in science.

The book we read is from Epic books, but before the kiddos come in I meet them at the door and have them each pick a steering ticket. When they come in they go to a lifeboat that is numbered. The closest boats to me are first class, then second, and then finally third class.

We use the book to share the background. The students get an idea as to what happened and how the lifeboats were used or not used. Then, we use the video to continue the importance of why we are learning about lifeboats!
Now...time to build our lifeboats. We create a harbor for all of the boats that are created. Each table group is a Boat Company who has a company name. When their FOSS sheet is done, they can work on the engineering project!

I then prep them for the engineering part...I am a rich entrepenuer who has a business where we give boat tours. For every person that buys a ticket...I make MONEY! So, I want to comission each company to build me a boat that would fit the most passengers on it...capacity! The winning boat company will earn 100 Grand! (a candy bar!)

Here are some pictures of the events in class...

Using Tier 3 vocabulary words to get students more excited about making FOSS lifeboats helps them build experiences! Check out the boats in the harbor. We have a fleet of boats ready to go!

Students work as a team to finish their FOSS activity and graph...once done they get to engineer a boat for me (a rich business owner who wants to invest in a tourist cruise line. I would charge $100 dollars a ticket...so the more the tourists the more I will make!)
Each group got only one piece of aluminum foil. The key to each getting paid $100,000 was that more tourists must fit in their boat compared to any other boat company! (100 Grand Candy Bar...FYI)

 Here is our Lifeboat Reflection Sheet Freebie that we used to wrap up our activity!
Happy Sailing!

Variable Vocabulary

I don't know about you, but...I have to work on an SLO and PPG. For my PPG...proving that what I am doing is data driven and proven to improve all test scores...realistic??? Maybe, not, but I am going to die trying. My professional goal is to increase my students' vocabulary to increase knowledge...and hopefully their test scores. I am starting with a few grades...first my fifth graders.

We are finishing up on our variable FOSS unit so I created a quizlet...check it out for your students by clicking on the link! I am also creating vocabulary question cards based on vocabulary and questions for our FOSS assessment. We then are graphing our progress.

These activities are being used with our before school and after school homework help program. I sure hope I see growth. I have also been using google forms and flubaroo to grade the formative tests I am giving. It grades the tests within a minute and prints out percentages, graphs, and color codes it. Great for my SLO or student learning objective. After 23 years, more hoops, but with vocabulary building...hopefully come success. Here is my vocabulary activity my kids have in their 5th grade classrooms. They seem to be getting it and its fun with QR codes!
I can't wait to see how it helps their test scores. We shall see next week! In the meantime, stop on by my store and check out this and other products at The Science School Yard TPT Store.

It's My Birthday...Let's Celebrate!

It's my birthday Tuesday. I am 40 something. The second number is getting way to scary. I can now round up. Yikes. I have been working hard to add some new items on TPT and was thinking why not have everyone celebrate with me on my big day. I am throwing a sale! Here is my newest addition... and the link to my store...http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Science-School-Yard
This one was made to go with the FOSS kit I have to use. I have used a ton of different variable activities and wanted to compile them. Here is what I put together...

Check out some of there castle catapults!
Try this fun STEM extension!


Junk Yard Science and Flying Marshmallows

Found a great website to use to help the students use FOSS and yet connect it to what we are learning...variables. Here is the sheet I made to go with it and a quick video to show.
I included the answer key on the second page, and the link to the lesson I am using for the activity. 

Now, onto 5th grade. Here is the idea and sheet for my bigs as they build catapults for marshmallow shooters. I can't wait to see the marshmallows fly. 
                             Marshmallow Catapult Directions


We Flip for FOSS Catapults

Soooo, I was thinking. How can we make the FOSS lessons extend to really get our olders connected. How about frontloading the idea of medieval  catapults? I am giving my fifth graders a piece of tag board this week and as a team they must decorate the sheet to look like a castle. I am then sharing the following sites with them.


And a video of a catapult at Warwick Castle. Short and sweet.

After the students build there flipper system and you have them read about the physics behind the catapult, have them try to get them to get the silver ball over the castle they built. This will help them connect history to science! Or if you want to share another type of catapult at a circus perhaps, then this one may be the one for you.

Either way, this will help our 5th graders understand the flipper system a bit better. I sent along a tag board paper that each group is making that they will make into a castle. We will place the castles around the room and after we practiced the height and distance and recorded we will then have 5 chances to make it over the wall of another groups castle. They are super excited.

Twirly Bird Company

I needed to assess today in fifth grade so I set up a Twirly Bird Company. Our variable unit is 2/3 of the way finished so this was a great way to assess direction reading and teach a bit of a real life skill. I set it up that I hired each to work in my factory. They were set in  their own cubicle (folders up) with directions for the twirly bird. They were pretty simple, so I thought. Cut on the black lines, fold on the dotted line. Place a paper clip on the end of the twirly bird. Out of my first production line of finished twirly birds, I had 10 made correctly. Those were my employees that got promoted. I put the others on probation, at risk of being fired. 8 more were able to be successful, but I still had 6 students unable to make a twirly bird.

We wrapped up by me modeling the directions and discussing how important it is to really pay attention to the directions and details, and how important it is to have good training. Teachers everyday, try to model and show in many ways how to help our students become successful. Sometimes it takes our kiddos a little longer or another way to show them how to complete a task. Whether one day they are the boss, and need to make sure they have a
great training program, or someone who works in a factory, this lets them get an idea of real life.

Here are the twirly bird directions and sheets:)



Surviving The Titanic

Our wonderful fifth graders are learning about lifeboats in science through our FOSS science program. To make it a little more lively I handed my students passes with a colored dot on them so that they knew which lifeboat to go to. This was there group they would work with that week. I also showed them a video to reinforce vocabulary such as capacity. I also used a link I am sharing to provide extra information about the Titanic's lifeboats. We then created our control boat to check for capacity. Just making it real. We had a few minutes at the end to make another boat out of aluminum foil. I gave each lifeboat the same size piece of foil and asked them to design a boat that could hold the most passengers. We shall see who's design is more buoyant.

Here is the video I used. The kids were shocked to see that the lifeboats weren't filled to capacity.

Here is link to the facts I used.

And let's not forget the boarding passes. 

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