JOES SCIENCE UPDATE - SEPT 30, 2016

Hello JOES Families,

Here is this week's update for science classes Pre-K through 3rd Grade.

Have a great weekend, and happy Friday!

Best,

Caitlin

Pre-K (GenEd): We continue practicing using our eyes to see and match shapes by playing a game called "What's Missing?" The students were each given a sheet with nine different leaf shapes on it. They were given a set of nine cards with the same leaf shapes, and first, they had to match each card to the right leaf on the sheet. After all the cards were matched correctly, I would come check their work, then mix their cards up again and remove one, placing it on a nearby shelf. The students had to match the remaining eight cards to the leaf sheet, find which one was missing, and then go to the shelf to retrieve the correct card to complete the game.

Pre-K (SpEd): This week, we decorated some more petals to add to our coffee filter flowers on Monday. On Wednesday, we worked on a project about our sense of touch. Each student was given a sheet of paper with "My Hands Can Feel..." and the words ROUGH, SMOOTH and SOFT printed across it. The students traced their hand prints onto the paper, and then had a chance to feel something rough (sandpaper), smooth (wax paper), and soft (a cotton ball). After feeling with our hands, we glued the sandpaper, wax paper, and cotton ball to the hand prints.

Kindergarten: On Monday, we continued our investigation of leaves and leaf shapes by playing a game called "What's Missing?" Working in pairs, the students were given a game set (either green or blue) that included a mat with six leaf silhouettes on it, and six cards that matched the leaves on the mat. With their partner, they were asked to begin the game by matching all the cards to the correct leaf on the mat. After matching all the cards, one student would pick up the cards, shuffle them, and remove one, placing it face-down next to the mat. Their partner then had to figure out which card had been removed by matching the remaining cards. After taking several turns with one set, the students would switch sets (from green to blue, or vice versa). After everyone had had a chance to play the game with both sets of cards, we discussed which set of cards was harder to play with. Everyone agreed that it was much harder to play with and match the green set of leaf shapes because they were very similar to each other (including four different species of oak leaves), while the blue set had leaves that were all very different (each leaf was from a different kind of tree). We had to be much more careful when we observed and compared the leaf shapes of the green set.

On Thursday, we began putting together a leaf booklet. Using six of the nine leaf outlines from our comparing to geometric shapes activity from last Thursday, the students cut out and folded the pages of the book so that each page featuring a leaf outline was facing a blank page. On the blank page opposite the leaf outline, the students drew and wrote the names of the geometric shape the leaf outline reminded them of, using the shape mat as a reference. (Some classes will be finishing the booklets next week.)

Vocabulary: observe, compare, communicate, circle, triangle, rectangle, heart, oval, egg, spear, wedge, paddle

Try this at home: Have your child compare other household or natural objects to the geometric shapes we have been working with. What shape does a spoon remind you of? What shape does that cloud remind you of? You can even begin venturing into "Why?" Why does the spoon remind you of a paddle? You can model this for your child as you go ("This rock reminds me of an egg because it is round, but bigger at one end, and smaller at the other end").

First Grade: Continuing our investigation of liquids, this week we observed how a liquid flows to the lowest point. We saw that liquid in a container, like a bottle, will flow with the movement of the container, but will always flow to the lowest point. For example, if a bottle is sitting upright on the table, the liquid sits at the bottom of the bottle, because that is its lowest point, but if the bottle is knocked over or turned upside down, the liquid will flow to the side or the top of the bottle. We also observed how when the container is still, the top of the liquid forms a straight line called a "level." Our first activity was centered around observing the liquid level of the same amount of liquid in a set of different containers. A small 7 dram vial of water was placed in a bottle, a dish, a large 12 dram vial, and a cup, and the students recorded the level of the liquid in each. After observing levels, we thought about how much liquid each container could hold, and tried to guess which container would hold the most water. We tested this by adding one small vial of water at a time to each container until is was (nearly) full, but not overflowing. Each time a vial-full was added, the students marked a box on their worksheets with an X, creating a bar graph comparing the amount of liquid each container could hold. We found that the large vial could hold the least liquid (only 2 small vials), while most students (though not all) found that the dish and the cup held the same amount of liquid (usually around 10 small vials). 

Vocabulary: matter, solid, liquid, gas, property, viscous, bubbly, foamy, has color, transparent, translucent, opaque, level

Try this at home: We have not yet begun a discussion of "volume" as the amount of space taken up by matter, but we are beginning to explore the concept. At this age, many students are just reaching the developmental stage where they can actually grasp the idea of conservation (that the amount of something stays the same regardless of the container it is in). It is also helpful if students have a chance to practice pouring liquids at home, so give your child a chance to practice pouring, especially if you have the opportunity to have them pour into containers of different sizes and shapes.

Second Grade: This week, we continued to identify and sort river rocks by properties. The students paired with a partner to play a guessing game. Sharing a bag of river rocks, and using a sorting mat, one student would take a turn picking a property and would begin sorting the rocks onto the sorting mat by that property. After sorting 3-4 rocks, they would give their partner a chance to guess which property they were sorting by. If the partner guessed the wrong property, a few more rocks would be sorted, continuing until the partner guessed correctly, and then their partner would have a turn to sort. After playing a few rounds of the game to help us practice identifying properties, the students were given a "Rock Record" worksheet to fill out. There were spaces on the worksheet for the students to select a rock, do a sketch of the rock, and then write some properties of the rock to complete the sentence "This rock is..." This was also a chance for the students to review and practice the ABCDE of scientific sketching, especially focusing on "B for BIG," as many students have a tendency to want to trace whatever they are sketching, and we saw that many of the rocks in our set were too small to trace and still take up most of the space given to sketch in. After doing a "Big" and "Detailed" sketch of their chosen river rock, the students completed the sentence by describing properties of their rock such as size, shape, color, pattern, texture, and luster. The worksheet contained space for four rocks, so students worked until time ran out. Some completed all four quickly, but others took their time to focus on doing a very detailed sketch of their rock.

Vocabulary: geology, property, basalt, scoria, tuff, weathering, luster

Try this at home: Have your child practice sorting by properties with rocks from their collection, rocks they find, or even other objects, including their toys, etc. Try playing the guessing-the-property game with them.

Third Grade: This week, we completed the energy transfer stations from last week's lesson. There were four energy transfer stations for the students to observe. The first station had the battery-powered tone generators from the previous activity, except that the students were asked to place grains of rice on the speaker and observe the action when the tone generator was switched on. The second station was bowling: with a tennis ball and empty plastic bottles as pins, the students were asked to simulate a round of bowling, and to observe the energy transfer. The third station was the battery-powered motors from the previous activity, where students needed to connect wires to the ends of AA battery to make the motor spin a small flag. The fourth station asked students to hold a toy spring (slinky) between them, and have one student gather five coils of the spring at one end with their hands, and then release the coils. After completing the final two stations, we met on the rug to discuss our findings. On the board, we divided each station into three columns: where the energy "started," what transferred the energy, and where the energy "ended." Next to the columns were cards featuring components from the energy stations ("flag on motor spins," "batteries," "sound waves," "wires," etc.) Going through the stations one by one, I asked the students which card showed where the energy had started. When a student answered correctly, they came to the board and moved the card into the correct column. We wrapped up by returning to what we had learned at the end of last week's lesson by considering the following question: What are three ways energy can be transferred? Looking at the center column on the board, the students were able to see how energy had been transferred by wires (connecting battery to motor), by waves (moving through the toy spring, and through the speakers of the tone generator into the rice), and by an object in motion (the tennis ball to the bottles/pins).

Vocabulary: energy, energy converter, energy source, fuel, transfer, waves

Try this at home:  We have been defining energy as the ability to make something happen, and it is sometimes difficult for students to separate and make distinctions between an action and the energy behind it. For example, the set of questions the students are given at each station always begins with "What action did you observe?" and frequently, students will simply write a form of energy (e.g. at the bowling station, when answering this question, many students simply wrote "motion.") When you discuss energy observations with your child, ask them to be specific about what they are observing, especially what action they observe (what happened?).