Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Science Year End Review 2015/2016

It has been another wonderful year of science.  This was my second year teaching classes out of my home.  The students continue to expand their science knowledge.  I have been impressed at their growth to problem solve.

The theme for my Creating and Conducting Class was matter.  Matter is everywhere and we explored a lot.  This class focuses on teaching the scientific method.  Students learn how to write a hypothesis, follow procedures, record data, graphing, and summarizing their results.  They also create their own investigations.  Students spent lots of time exploring effervescent tablets. They then came up with their own investigations.  Each student did something different.  Some changed the type of liquid and others changed the temperature of the water.  They also measure different things such as the temperature of the liquid, the length of the reaction, and the time of the reaction.  All were unique. 

Here are some of the fun things we did this year.

The Students used eggs to learn about the states of matter.https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Exploring-the-Properties-of-Matter-An-Egg-cellent-Exploration-2184737?aref=nqbkosea

Working hard on recording data.
How many drops can fit on a penny?

Students explored Carbon Dioxide Gas.

Students separated Oxygen and Hydrogen

End of the Year Science Fair Poster Display

Each student uses the workbook "Creating Original Investigations"  to create an original science fair project.  The projects were wonderful and well thought out.  I was so impressed by their ability to explain their projects. 

We did so many great things.  I am finishing up writing all the experiments and lessons for the year.
Keep a look out for new lessons for next year at

Other fun things this year

Siebert Elementary Science Fair Workshop
Monthly Science Exploration
Organizing the Siebert Science Fair
Home School Science Fair Workshop

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Exploring Bubbles: The Science Behind the Bubble

Exploring with bubbles is a great sunny day activity.  You can even explore with bubbles inside.  Soap is easy to find and many things can be used as bubble blowers.  As a science teacher I don't just focus on the kids exploring. I also focus on the science behind their exploration.  I want to uncover the mystery behind the results.  I also want to be ready for any scientific questions they have.

What is the Structure of a Bubble?

A soap bubble is composed of 3 layers.  The middle layer is water which is sandwiched between 2 layers of soap.  Soap has two ends.  One is attracted to oil and the other end is attracted to water.  The outer layer of a bubble contains the oil loving soap ends.  This is why a bubble pops when it touches another object.  That object most likely has oil and dirt on it.  Since the outer layer is attracted to oil it clings to the object and pops.  If the object is free of oil and dirt the bubble may not attract to the object.  It will sit on top of the object.  Eventually the bubble will begin to evaporate and then pop. 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kimberly-Scott-ScienceHow to Catch a Bubble?

If you want to catch a bubble in your hand there are several things you need to know.  A dry hand absorbs the water in the bubble. Your dry hand most likely contains oil and dirt.  When you touch the bubble your skin creates a gap between the soap bubble molecules.  Think of a bubble like a net and if the molecules are too far apart they can not stay together.  The attraction to oil in your hand causes the soap bubble to cling to your hand increasing this gap. When the gap is too far apart the bubble pops. 
A wet object does not take anything away from the bubble. When you want to catch a bubble dip your hand in soapy water.  When your hand is wet the soapy water attracts to the bubble.  Your hand becomes part of the netting instead of creating gaps and the bubble sits on your hand. Washing your hands before catching a bubble will help you be more successful. 

The same is true for putting your hand inside a bubble.  Make sure your hand is soapy wet.  Your hand will be able to go into the bubble because it becomes part of the bubble

No matter what shape you start with when you blow a bubble it will make a sphere.  Bubbles will always create a shape that has the smallest surface area.  A sphere has less surface area and is more stable then other shapes.

Recipe for Bubble Solution

Have fun exploring and learning about the science of bubbles.  Here is the link to the recipe for bubble solution that I like to use.


Bubble Activity Links

How to Make Giant Bubble Wands -- so cool!!

Take the kids outside with these fun bubble activities that the kids will love! These bubble activities are great for kids of all ages! Fun ways to keep kids busy!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

STEM Education: What should STEM be in the Elementary Classroom?

Author:  Kimberly Scott

It seems everywhere we go we hear about STEM.  Activities and summer camps are all being labeled as STEM.  Even my church is labeling the 3rd-6th Grade Vacation Bible school as being taught by STEM educators.  What exactly does that mean?  What is STEM?  Is it good for elementary science education?  I am not so sure. Somehow the meaning and purpose of STEM is getting lost.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  It is the integration of these 4 areas.  Instead of teaching them as separate subjects the goal is to integrate them together.  The initiative started because students were not prepared in college for these fields.  They would then decide on another major instead of a STEM related field.  We now have a shortage of people in STEM related careers.  These careers are vital for our economy.  The STEM Initiative first started as a way to promote science related careers.  It's main goal is to prepare students so that more will choose a STEM career.  It is not a curriculum, but a way to teach and expose students in a positive way to STEM subjects. Much of this method is already taught in science classrooms.

I love teaching science to elementary kids.  I don't do it in the hopes that they will go into a STEM field.  If they do that is wonderful.  I teach science to inspire kids about the world around them.  Science is a great way to get kids excited about learning in general.  Everyone needs to know science.  It is all around them.  Science is in baking, lawn care, bikes, television, computers, cars, going to the doctors, and so much more.  We all need to be more literate in science, technology, engineering, and math.  It will help us make educated decisions about our health and well being.  Critical thinking and problem solving is needed in everything.  It will make us all better citizens and leaders.  

The STEM initiative is getting it right in creating more excitement about science.  Science, math, art, and social studies got lost when "No Child Left Behind"  began.  They have become the subjects you complete if there is time in the elementary school day.  This has created kids that are not ready for middle school.  Therefore they get more frustrated and begin to dislike science.  STEM is helping to bring back the focus.  STEM helps to create a blended learning environment which helps create a positive learning experience.  It integrates subjects together.  This gives real world examples for using math.  Students focus on problem solving, testing ideas, and collaborating with others.  It is important to make sure we remember to start science in the elementary schools. This will increase their belief that they can learn science and students will be proficient when they enter college.  The key is not to forget to teach science.   STEM is helping students become aware of the careers available.  STEM is also helping to create teacher training.  Many elementary teachers just don't have the background to teach science effectively.  They themselves had negative experiences in science class and shy away from the hands-on.  From my experience it doesn't have to be much hands-on to really create an impact with students.  Just adding 4 STEM experiences a year, along with a good science curriculum, will expand their learning.

Why am I getting frustrated with STEM?  The goal of STEM is great, but now it seems everyone wants to get on the bandwagon.  The term is being used by companies and programs as a way to make money.  Businesses are claiming to offer STEM programs, but what they are doing is not what STEM initially wanted.  School districts are getting grants to open what they call STEM schools.  At the elementary level I find that dangerous.  One problem with "No Child Left Behind Act"  was that it took away from a balanced elementary curriculum.  The same could be said about STEM.  Elementary students need to learn about all subjects.  Art, music, reading, writing, physical education, and social studies are also just as important.  Not everyone will go into a STEM field.  Students at the elementary level need to be exposed to all.  Science education should not just be focused on careers, but having a science literate society.  A balanced education will give students more choices.  We can't just teach the STEM method.  It needs to be integrated into the curriculum.  The goal is to inspire students to love learning.  Providing a balanced and hands-on education will cause more to go into STEM fields and more will be willing to dream big in whatever career they want.

I found several articles that discuss STEM.  I picked a mix of pros and cons.  It is important to understand all of it.  I am for STEM, but I am not for forgetting about other subjects.  I believe when STEM is done correctly it helps build critical thinking, higher order thinking skills, and a love for learning about the world around you.  These are essential to a good science curriculum.

"What's Wrong with STEM?"  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vinay-trivedi/stem-education_b_5101816.html
This article discusses access to STEM education.  It talks about demographics, teacher training, and accessibility.

"Carol Craig:  STEM is not a Four Letter Word"  http://www.floridatoday.com/story/money/small-business/entrepreneurship/2015/07/19/carol-craig-stem-four-letter-word/30388715/
She discusses the role of women in science.  She also lists organizations that are doing it right and not getting into the business of STEM.

STEM Education Coalition:  http://www.stemedcoalition.org/
This is the site you need to understand all about STEM.  This is where you get the true meaning of STEM in creating policies to promote careers.

"Six Characteristics of a Great STEM Lesson"  http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/06/17/ctq_jolly_stem.html
What actually makes a STEM lesson?  This is a great article.  If you are looking to truly create something and label it STEM then make sure it contains these parts.  It creates great links to help you create Great STEM Lessons.

Departments of Educations Website:  http://www.ed.gov/stem


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

10 Ways to use Baby Bottles in the Science Classroom

Baby bottles are a great addition to any science classroom. 

1.  They measure in ounces and milliliters.
2.  They come with a lid.
3.  You can get them in plastic or glass.
4.  They come in several sizes.
5.  They are easy to clean and reusable.
6.  Typically Clear.
7.  Heat resistant and can be sanitized.
6.  They are in expensive and easy to find.

I saved all of my newborn bottles.  They are more like a graduated cylinder.   I also find them at garage sales.  You could also ask parents to donate bottles they don't use anymore.  Click the ideas to find out more.





What other ideas can you think of? 
Keep your eye out for baby bottles for your classroom.