The Curriculum in Action:
Force and Motion 2016: Research in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) learning has a lot to say...
In the summer of 2015 Quynh Cao and I were by the National Science Teachers Association to participate in a weeklong training program, The National Teachers Academy. We flew to Nw Jersey in late July and spent a week at the Liberty Science Center with teachers from forty-eight states, working through ideas about best practices in teaching science as they relate to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The focus of our week was Newton’s Laws of Force and Motion. It was an engaging week of hands-on exploration and we knew the children at Lake and Park would learn so much during a study centered around this topic.
As we posed these questions in our various classrooms: What do scientists do? How are they alike?. Initial responses were long. Details were added as knowledge grew. Students began to identify when they were taking on some of these traits themselves.
Quynh’s class also read and discussed the evolution of scientific thinking with Camille Hayward, reading several books on Galileo, Newton and Einstein as a means of learning about the history of scientific thought. This was a wonderful opportunity for Camille to work directly with the Intermediate students. Across the grades, students read biographies of the scientists mentioned above and many others The study contained many highlights as well as collective and individual “Aha” moments.
As a part of this unit, The Pacific Science Center Physics on Wheels program came to school for a day. The visit included individual classroom workshops and a lab space filled with demonstrations and experiments.
Maudie James and I developed a space for the whole student population to “tinker in”. Equipped with tape and tubes and pulleys and hooks, marbles and velcro, The Tinker Lab remains busy most days with children creating inventions, and working on challenges involving force, motion, and velocity. Thank you to everyone for making it possible by cleaning out closets and garages and sharing your treasures and purchasing tape. After making an invention or machine, children draw a model of it and tell a teacher about it so that ideas are written down. Often the project is named. Those who can write, describe it in their own terms.
When we came together to share and celebrate our common learning, George told us about Hawking’s current work to which George had been introduced to this spring. He graciously answered questions.
As for this summer? I know teachers are planning on more professional development experiences, exploration and reflection.
Raising Salmon: One of the many benefits of teaching children for multiple years is the frequent opportunity to revisit a topic...
The following was posted on the Lake and Park’s blog, the Ampersand, on January 16, 2013.
|Observing the salmon tank in anticipation of the eggs arrival.|
December provided another way to look at the salmon habitat in the Northwest with a deeper understanding.
|Learning about the harvested salmon eggs at the hatchery.|
remembered the requirements all habitats must provide to sustain life, they also remembered work they did researching and writing their biome projects last spring. Students who joined this group in September were engaged in learning from their peers.
|Students look for the five essentials in the natural habitat.|
|Learning from the experts at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.|
we will release in a stream this spring. For the next couple of months students will check on the temperature and other aspects of water quality in the tank, and when the time comes we will
begin to feed the fry. We all anticipate our trip to release the young salmon into a stream. We plan to work on a habitat restoration project. We will record and graph our
data about the tank. We will observe and draw and paint what we see happening in the tank. We will keep journals, writing down our thoughts, questions and responses to the changes in the fish tank. The salmon project has brought a special energy to our hallway and will continue to do so for several months to come. Please stop by and take a look.
The Garden: As I looked to bridge the long summer days spent outside in the Pacific Northwest...
As I looked to bridge the long summer days spent outside in the Pacific Northwest with our annual return to the classroom in early September, I decided to create a small science corner with a display of seeds and seed pods, along with containers of fall blooming flowers. The idea was to generate conversation and begin the habits of careful observation and inquiry. The display also gave me a chance to get to know the students in the North Room as I listened and watched them interact with the natural materials, tools to assist in observation, and with each other. It turns out that small seed, planted in late August as we prepared the classroom for students has been watered and fed and is really starting to germinate.
|First day in the field with science journals.|
In the weeks that followed families brought in seedpods from their gardens for students to explore. We opened them and counted and sorted seeds. We looked at the different shapes and learned about the many ways seeds travel. So far this year we have taken weekly trips to many of the local parks, including the Colman Park P-Patch. In the parks we looked closely at plants and leaves and seed pods and thought about the ways they grow. We considered their variety as we drew the many interesting shapes.
|In the classroom students use both the eye and hand to help them see.|
Both inside and out we have been reading books about seeds and plants. We have generated lists of questions about seeds. As we practice asking questions, we hold off on finding quick answers so we can grow more comfortable with the process of inquiry. What at first glance looks like a simple question with a quick answer, given some time, can bloom into a question that scientists have already spent hundreds of years exploring. It is exciting to join this group and feel the connection
with those who have asked these questions before us. All the while we are learning to listen to each other. One question leads to the next, a related question that is clearly following a shared path of inquiry.
Our first visit to the Colman P-Patch led us to wonder about the Lake and Park School having a garden of our own. Like the City and Country School that inspired Camille to found Lake and Park, we all felt we could learn so much if we were able to add an outdoor “classroom” in the form of a garden we can tend throughout the seasons. The P-Patch has the space available and the students are enthusiastic as we begin to plan and to prepare the beds and paths, and to learn what it takes to make a garden grow. We hope our whole school community will want to be involved.
|Stephanie gives primary grade lesson in plant life cycle|
Already Walter’s Aunt Stephanie, a Seattle Tilth educator and local gardener, has visited the classroom, bringing scarlet runner bean plants for exploration and dissection. This was a perfect plant to use to introduce the plant life-cycle because on a single plant we could see both the blossoms and the pods. Children picked the pods and opened them to reveal the beans/seeds. Stephanie answered children’s questions and inspired more questions such as, “where does water come from anyway?”
|Making plans at the garden.|
And so our curriculum grows, turning and winding as the children’s skills and understanding develop. The prospect of tending our own garden together now exists like a seed in the good soil our inquiry has created. We all share the anticipation and excitement of helping it thrive.
A garden is a natural focus for building community. With a common purpose, everyone contributes meaningfully. As we nurture the plants in our garden, and eventually provide our own snacks and food, we also support each other as creative thinkers and doers.
Please consider ways you might participate in the Lake and Park Garden at the Colman P-Patch. we welcome comments and suggestions.
|Weeding and measuring.|