Not only were the third graders expected to create a set of instructions explaining how to make a science experiment, they were also expected to share their learning at an exhibit. Lower School students as well as family and friends were invited to come and celebrate what the Magical Minds had learned in their latest Unit of Inquiry.
It may look simple, but this exhibit performs three very important functions in our learning process:
- It’s a summative assessment. As the Magical Minds put their experiments together, and as they explained their thinking, I was watching to see how well the understood the content we had covered. I was also looking to see if they were using the “science words” we had learned, using them in the correct way. Finally, I was looking to see what skills the children had mastered over the last six weeks, including writing quality instructions, using the scientific method and creating experiments.
- It’s a celebration. This exhibit was like a grand “You did it!” Our friends and family saw what magnificent learners and scientists the Magical Minds truly are. It’s a nice way to joyfully complete and wrap up a unit.
- It’s service learning. We exposed our friends and family to new learning and interesting experiments. Our hope is to teach as well as inspire others to do their own experiments into light and sound. This year’s third graders remember when last year’s third graders did a similar exhibit. Their memories both motivated and challenged the Magical Minds in their learning. Our instructions on how to create experiments is also a service to an even larger audience: kids teaching kids around the world.
- Independence Day: Developing Self-Directed Learning Projects (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)