Monday, December 5, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Scientific Investigation

Children are naturally curious. This curiosity can lead to interesting and wonderful discoveries. By experimenting, observing, and making predictions students can discover a plethora of new and exciting things. This resource contains instructional planning, foldables, books, websites, and assessment for the Virginia Standard of Learning for first grade scientific investigation.

Virginia Standard of Learning - 1.1
The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations in which:
a) the senses are used to observe differences in physical properties;
b) observations are made from multiple positions to achieve a variety of perspectives and are repeated to ensure accuracy;
c) objects or events are classified and arranged according to characteristics or properties;
d) simple tools are used to enhance observations;
e) length, mass, volume, and temperature are measured using nonstandard units;
f) inferences are made and conclusions are drawn about familiar objects and events;
g) a question is developed from one or more observations;
h) predictions are made based on patterns of observations;
i) observations and data are recorded, analyzed, and communicated orally and with simple graphs, pictures, written statements, and numbers; and
j) simple investigations and experiments are conducted to answer questions.

Background Information
The nature of science refers to the foundational concepts that govern the way scientists formulate explanations about the natural world. The nature of science includes the following concepts:
  • a) the natural world is understandable;
  • b) science is based on evidence, both observational and experimental;
  • c) science is a blend of logic and innovation;
  • d) scientific ideas are durable yet subject to change as new data are collected;
  • e) science is a complex social endeavor; and
  • f) scientists try to remain objective and engage in peer review to help avoid bias.
In grade one, an emphasis should be placed on concepts a, b, and e.
  • Science assumes that the natural world is understandable. Scientific inquiry can provide explanations about nature. This expands students’ thinking from just a knowledge of facts to understanding how facts are relevant to everyday life.
  • Science demands evidence. Scientists develop their ideas based on evidence and they change their ideas when new evidence becomes available or the old evidence is viewed in a different way.
  • Science is a complex social endeavor. It is a complex social process for producing knowledge about the natural world. Scientific knowledge represents the current consensus as to what is the best explanation for phenomena in the natural world. This consensus does not arise automatically, since scientists with different backgrounds from all over the world may interpret the same data differently. To build a consensus, scientists communicate their findings to other scientists and attempt to replicate one another’s findings. In order to model the work of professional scientists, it is essential for first-grade students to engage in frequent discussions with peers about their understanding of their investigations.
  • To communicate an observation accurately, one must provide a clear description of exactly what is observed and nothing more.
  • Observations should be made from multiple positions (e.g., observations of the same object from the front of the object, from the back of the object, looking down on the object, etc.) whenever possible to achieve a variety of perspectives.
  • Observations should be repeated multiple times to assure accuracy.
  • Once the characteristics of several objects or several events have been observed and recorded, the objects or events can be arranged by those characteristics (e.g., several objects sorted by color, several events sorted on a timeline by age, etc.).
  • Simple tools, such as a magnifying glass and a balance can extend the observations that people can make.
  • Nonstandard units such as paper clips, a student’s foot, index cards, etc., can be used to measure the length of objects. The mass of two objects can be compared by holding each object in a different hand. The volume of various liquids can be compared by pouring them in cups of the same size. Variations in temperature of different objects can be compared by the difference that is felt when each object is touched. Variations in air temperature can be compared by observing the differences one feels when in different environments (e.g., inside the classroom vs. outside on the playground in winter, inside the freezer compartment of a refrigerator vs. inside a kitchen).
  • An inference is a tentative explanation based on background knowledge and available data.
  • A conclusion is a summary statement based on data from the results of an investigation.
  • Questions about what is observed can be developed.
  • A prediction is a forecast about what may happen in some future situation. It is based on information and evidence. A prediction is different from a guess.
  • Graphs are powerful ways to display data, making it easier to recognize important information. Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
  • Data should be displayed in bar graphs and picture graphs at the grade one level.
  • An experiment is a fair test designed to answer a question.

Unit Vocabulary
View PDF file with suggested vocabulary terms and definitions here.

Day One - Introduction to Observation
Before starting Science Unit play "Science is Real" video by They Might Be Giants
Objective: Students will
  • Use their senses to enhance their observation of physical properties
Students will make observations of everyday items using their 5 senses. First,gather class together and discuss with the students what they already know about their 5 senses. Read "How Do You Know?: A Book About Five Senses" by Lisa Jayne. Hand each student "My Itsy Bitsy Five Senses Book" worksheet. Have them color and write words before cutting up and putting into book foldable (directions for foldable - you will need to make two books and glue together). Glue foldable into left side of science journal. Next, Put students into group of 4 to 5. At each table put a "Senses Bag". In each bag put an item for smelling (garlic in a container with holes), hearing (beads in a container), touching (cotton balls), tasting (M&Ms if permissible at your school), and a picture. Items in parentheses are suggested items. Number each item. Have each student make observations about each numbered item using each of their senses at least once and record in their science journal. Bring students back into group and discuss what they learned about their senses. Explain to students that they are collecting data on each item.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they used the correct senses for identifying items.
Day Two - Observations from Multiple Positions
Objective: Students will
  • Observe an item from multiple positions and make repeated observations
  • Communicate observations with simple pictures
For this lesson you will need Styrofoam cylindrical cone cut in half. Gather the students on carpet and show them the cone from the front and ask what they see, turn it and ask what they see, point the top at them and ask what they see. Explain that items can look different from different angles. Have a student stand in the front of the group. Ask student to face group, turn back to group, lay on floor. Ask students if they see the difference in the way they see their fellow student depending on what angle they are looking from. Next, divide students into groups so that approximately the same number are at each table. On each table place 4 - 5 items that look different from different angles (book, Styrofoam circle cut in half, half cylindrical cone, plate, pine cone, cup, hexagon bolt, toy car, football). Number each item. Have students draw each item in their science journal. They should have a column for the item number, top view, front view, back view). Again, explain that they are collecting data on each item and making observations.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they filled in each column correctly and understood what the assignment was.
Day Three - Classification of Objects
Objective: Student will
  • Classify and arrange objects and events according to at least two attributes or properties so that similarities and differences become apparent
Read the book "3 Little Firefighter" by Stuart J. Murphy. As you are reading point out the different shapes and ask if they are the same shape? Color? After reading ask students the different ways they could have grouped the buttons. Draw different options on the white board (triangles could be grouped together, all the black buttons could be grouped together, all the red triangles). Sent students back to their desk. Give each one a Sorting Worksheet. Have them cut out each box. Construct a three pocket foldable (these are directions for a two pocket - follow them except fold the paper in thirds). Ask students to sort the cards into different groups (white triangles, red triangles, triangles, circles, white circles, red circles, red shapes, white shapes).

Day Four - Using Non-Standard Measurement
Objective: Student will
  • Measure length, mass, and volume, using nonstandard units
Watch "Body Matches" & "Catching the Kidnapper" videos. Discuss different ways the video used to measure items. Read "How Big is a Foot?" by Rolf Myller. Discuss how the book used measurement for the Queen's bed. Set up stations around the room where students can measure items. Have a long stuffed snake or similar item for students to measure with their feet. Have two small but different weight items for students to hold in each hand and determine which is heavier/lighter. An ice pack and a hand warming packet to determine which is colder/hotter. These items are just suggestions. Once you have determined which items you will use, create a worksheet with pictures and a space for students to make observations. This sheet can then be glued into their science journal.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they were able to make logical observations.
Day Five - Making Predictions
Objective: Student will
  • Predict outcomes based on actual observations and evidence rather than random guesses
Read "The Sneeches" By Dr. Seuss. While reading, stop and ask students to make predictions about what might happen next in the story. Explain that a predication is a thought about what we think might happen. After the book, explain that we can use the same predicting skills in science. We will observe (watch) an experiment and make predictions. Give each student a cup that has been marked on the inside with a line at the half way point. Fill each cup to the line with warm water. Have student put their finger in water so they know the starting temperature. Tell students you will be adding an ice cube to each cup - what are some predictions about what will happen in the water (water will rise, water will get cold, ice will melt). Have students fill out "I Can Make Predictions" worksheet with predictions about what they think will happen to the water. Add ice to each cup. Have students fill-out the observation portion of worksheet. Students will also list the 5 senses used to make observations and predictions. These are in their science journal from previous lesson. Glue sheet in science journal.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they made logical predictions, observations, and wrote their 5 senses.
Day 6 - Making Inferences
Objective: Student will
  • Use familiar events and objects to make inferences and draw conclusions
Discuss how we use information we know to draw conclusions. View "Drawing Conclusions Detective" PowerPoint. Answer the questions in a group discussion. Read "Bear & Bunny Grow Tomatoes" by Bruce Koscielniak. Next, give each student "What Happened?" worksheet and have them fill out what happened in the story and the result of these actions on each character.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they knew details of the story and could draw a conclusion.
Day 7 - Collecting Data
Objective: Student will
  • Communicate observations and data with simple graphs and pictures
Read "Collecting Data: Pick a Pancake" by John Burstein. Discuss collecting data to create graphs. Hand out "What M&M Color?" and collect data from their fellow students on their favorite color of M&Ms. They will use this information tomorrow to create a graph.

Your students can create different graphs online at Kids' Zone.
Day Eight - Creating Graphs
Objective: Student will
  • Communicate observations and data with simple graphs and pictures
Read "The Great Graph Contest" by Loreen Leedy. Discuss the different ways we can pictorially represent information. Show students examples of different graphs. Have students use their "What M&M Color" sheet from the previous day to create a bar graph. Model the graph on the board and show students where labels go and how to know where their bars go. Glue the M&M sheet and the graph in their science journals.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure their bar graph matched the information they collected.
Day Nine - Answering Questions
Objective: Student will
  • Answer questions by conducting simple experiments using simple tools
Read "Mighty Maddie" by Stuart J. Murphy. Discuss the how objects can be the same size and still have different weights/can be the different sizes but still weigh the same. Using balances have students weight two items and record their findings in their science journals. Have them do 4 - 5 different experiments with different items. Have them make a prediction on which is the lightest (or heaviest) before they weigh items. See if their prediction was correct.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they made predictions and recorded their findings.
Day Ten - Review
Read "Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation". Discuss with students that experiments, predictions, observations, etc. are like pieces of a mystery and how we use them can help us solve a problem and discover answers.

For the final assessment of this unit, construct a Layered-Look Book foldable. Give each student a copy of "Science Assessment" worksheet. Have them use this information to create the book. This will review information included in this unit. You can always change the terms or add more. Teachers will probably need to construct the books ahead of time (Layered-Look Book foldable directions).

3 Little Firefighters. By Stuart J. Murphy. Illus. by Bernice Lum. (2003). 40p. HarperCollins, (978-0060001209). Gr. K -3. Three firefighters scramble to find their missing buttons before the big parade. A good introduction to sorting items by attributes.
Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes. By Bruce Koscielniak. (1993). Knopf Books for Young Readers, (978-0679836872). Gr. K - 3. Bear and Bunny both decide to grow tomatoes except Bear takes a must more proactive approach to his garden. This book helps students to draw conclusions about what will happen based on the characters' behavior.
Collecting Date: Pick a Pancake. By John Burstein. (2003). 24p. Weekly Reader Early Learning, (978-0836838206). Gr. K - 2.The Math Monsters decide to open a pancake shop, but they like four different kinds of pancakes, but they only have three mixing bowls. The Monsters decide to survey their friends to figure out which three kinds of pancakes are most popular in Monster Town. Introduces the concepts of data collection and data representation.
Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation. By Mark Teague. (2004). 32p. Scholastic Press, (978-0439458689). Gr. K - 2. Ike LaRue (dog detective) is framed for a crime by two cats and he must solve the crime. Great illustrations.
The Great Graph Contest. By Loreen Leedy. (2006). 32p. Holiday House, (978-0823420292). Gr. 1 - 3. Gonk the toad and Beezy the lizard engage in a contest to create the best graph. The friends show how to collect and organize data.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights and Measures. By Jerry Pallotta. Illus by Rob Bolster. (2003). 32p. Cartwheel, (978-0439388771). Gr. 1 - 4. Teach students about measurement using different candies.
How Big is a Foot? By Rolf Myller. (1991). 48p. Yearling,( 978-0440404958). Gr. K - 2. The King wants to build a bed for his Queen for her birthday. The problem is that no one knows what a bed is, since they haven't been invented yet, let alone how big one should be. Teaches non-standard measurement.
How Do You Know? A Book About 5 Senses. By Lisa Jayne. (2007). 24p. Tate Publishing & Enterprises (978-1602473126). Gr. K-1. How do you know certain things? By using your different senses.
Mighty Maddie. By Stuart J. Murphy. Illus by Bernice Lum. (2004). 40p. HarperCollins, (978-0060531614). Gr. K - 1. Maddie needs to clean her very messy room up before her party! Might Maddie to the rescue. While cleaning, Maddie teaches about light and heavy.
The Sneeches and Other Stories. By Dr. Seuss. (1961). 72p. Random House, (978-0394800899). Gr. 1 - 4. Some Sneeches have stars on their bellies and some do not. When the Sneeches with bare bellies fall victim to a con man and decide to add stars to their bellies, insanity ensues. Good book for helping students make predictions since the Sneeches go in and out the star machine.

This site has many videos that work for almost any subject you need to teach.
This site is similar to YouTube, but focuses on only educational videos.
This site has many educational resources available, including many complete PowerPoints to aid in lesson presentation.
This site is full of lesson plans that also include videos that support the lesson.

Kids' Zone
Many student centered activities. This site is run in conjunction with the National Center for Education Statistics.

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