Activities and investigations

It’s easy to find activities in science, especially with the Internet. But integrating content and activities/investigations in a planned and purposeful (and engaging) way can be a challenge for teachers. The articles in NSTA publications have many examples of how this can be done, including planning tools, rubrics, connections to standards, and assessments. Tools such as SciLinks can provide just-in-time content and background information for both students and teachers [See Scientific Investigations and Developing Classroom Activities for examples.]

The featured articles in this issue focus on these planned and purposeful activities and investigations:

  • Noodling for Mollusks (even the title of the article is intriguing) describes how to model and practice field sampling with students. I must admit I was unfamiliar with the term “noodling”– searching for an organism using your sense of touch but not your sense of sight (sounds like a real-life application of the mystery box). The article describes a classroom simulation based on the experiences of one of the authors. So even if you don’t have access to an aquatic environment, you can use their directions to create a noodling site, collect data, and analyze the results. [SciLinks: Mollusks]
  • Make Your Own Phylogenetic Tree has a detailed description of a simulation to help students understand phylogeny and molecular similarity. [SciLinks: Phylogenetic Trees, Mutations]
  • Chemistry Cook-Off shows how cooking can be used to help students learn chemistry concepts, such as chemical and physical changes. (But remember that cooking and eating in the science lab is not a safe practice.) The article includes guidelines and a rubric. [SciLinks: Physical/Chemical Changes.  See also Kitchen Chemistry from the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) , the Science of Cooking from the Exploratorium, and Cheeseburger Chemistry from NBC Learn and NSTA.
  • It’s All in the Particle Size describes an investigation about sedimentation and topics related to weathering, erosion, and deposition as a prelude to a study of sedimentary rock. The author includes the essential questions for the investigation and graphics related to the investigation [SciLinks: Soil, Weathering, Sedimentary Rock]
  • The author of A Hidden Gem describes the important role teachers play in guiding students as they access and use online resources. She describes a three-phase approach to a student investigation of global warming (the GEM of the title – Generate ideas, Evaluate ideas, Modify ideas) and the online resources used. [SciLinks: Global Warming, Climate Change]

“Activities and Investigations” has been a recurring theme in TST. See these back issues for even more ideas: December 2007 and December 2010.

Don’t forget to look at the Connections for this issue (November 2012), which includes links to the studies cited in the research article. These Connections also have ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.

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