I wanted to talk about how important doing hands on science activities are in my classroom. The kids are so much more engaged, they're excited to try things out and experiment, and it really amped up their writing.
My science unit we just completed was our land and water unit. It does tend to get messy and I tend to dread it, but I am happy with the results at the end. The main idea of the unit is for students to study water flow and then build a dam. We are an IB school (International Baccalaureate) and we use a lot of inquiry while doing all subjects. I started off this unit planting in their heads the question of why do we need to know about water flow? How can we affect water flow?
Each lesson was like a building block, adding on. We learned about the water cycle, then progressed to small water flow, and building up to a larger water flow. They studied the impact of hills and rocks with water flow. Students looked at how plants affect water and soil. Then of course was their favorite part of the unit, building a dam.
They had to work as a group to design a dam using only tape, popsicle sticks, and straws. Like any good scientist, we tested out the dams and then re-designed or touched up dams as necessary before testing again.
After seeing if their dams worked, then they had a mission. Their mission was to protect the little city of cubes from getting flooded.
I even threw in a dam alert like the dam was about to break. My students ate that part up. Those little things make it that much more fun and it was easy to add to the lesson.
This little group figured out to use straws like irrigation to divert the water!