Practical STEM Strategy #1 Part2

Strategy #1: Use the Science Practices as a Lesson Framework. 

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Unpacking the Framework.

The student led component of the framework is evident as the kids developed their own research questions and with help, recorded answers to the questions. As the teacher, I embedded my content standard questions into their questions so I assess the answers. I look for quality sites and complete information. If there are holes, the kids go back and make it better.

Day 4-6:  With a blank sheet of graph paper folded into four boxes, ask students to use what they learned and complete four design ideas. Why four? I’m looking for preliminary conceptual sketches and using a smaller box helps make it more of a sketch and less of a drawing. The kids write a one sentence summary explaining the design. To help them use Science vocabulary, they must use a word list to explain their ideas. They use the reference research answers to explain their ideas. Kids use the word lists again and collaborate with others in the group. The purpose of the collaboration is to share ideas and repeat the science concepts necessary to defend the design in an effort to construct design solutions.

Day 7-8: A design problem my students developed is, “How can we design an eco-friendly building?” The research involves eco-friendly products as well as floor plans. After they have made changes to their preliminary design ideas, I offer them a scientific investigation. “I have a great activity that will help you understand how heat transfers!”

Day 9-11:  I introduce my tried and tested heat transfer labs. Students test convection, conduction, and radiation in an effort to understand how to design homes to reduce heat transfer (insulation) or encourage heat transfer (passive solar heating). Inherent in the investigation is the recording time and temperature. To evaluate their data, students respond to the question: “How can your results be used to design an eco-friendly home?” I assess the student’s formal conclusion.

Check out the writing from a student working on designing an eco-friendly safe house for families swept out of their homes by a natural disaster.


Days 11-13 Coming up Next.




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