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.
Assessing the Learning
- 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.
Create quality istructions that explain how to learn about light and sound through an investigation (experiment).
How do we know if we are successful?
We made a rubric, together. After examining a variety of How-To Videos and Instructions, the Magical Minds and I made a list of the top five things that are needed to create “quality instructions.” This blue poster was the foundation for the rubric, which we also used to assess our instructions on writing quality comments on a blog post (formative assessment or “practice round”).
Enjoy their projects below, or click here to see our wikispace:
Which string carries sound best?
On our last day of investigating sound, I released the kids to explore a topic of their choice. A few kids chose to make another instrument (using a different sound source), but for the most part, everyone became fascinated with the string telephone project.
Seeing they were captivated by this common childhood project, I stepped in with a new challenge: Does it matter the size of the string? Is there a difference when you use a thinner or thicker string? We began a Scientific Method sheet.
We designed our experiment, making a plan to poke holes in plastic cups and threading the string through the hole. We had to locate three different sized strings. We made some predictions, but the best part is carrying out the plan – testing the hypothesis with the actual experiment.
- Listening for Sound Quality
An exciting project, even the first graders got interested. They sat down on the benches, watching the Magical Minds test each string. When we left for lunch, we let the first graders give it a try as well.
Scientists with an Audience
Our (unanimous) conclusion was…I don’t want to give it away.
What do you think the difference was?
Do you have a favorite sound experiment?