Discovering Science: lessons plans and experiments for the classroom

Science curriculum is so important today! Yet, as educators we already have so much curriculum to cover — little time remains in the day for science. That’s why we created Discovering Science: Lesson Plans and Experiments. We wanted to help you achieve your goals: to teach students to think critically, to make decisions, and to solve problems. So many of you wrote asking for resources such as these, and we heard you! A recent national survey of teachers underscores the need. We are extremely excited to share these lessons developed especially for you and for your students.

NSTA Lessons Are Focused on Goals

In developing the lessons, we had four primary goals
• to motivate students and get them excited about science.
• to reduce prep time by providing you with background information in the science concepts.
• to make science an authentic, lively, and engaging classroom experience.
• to feature science concepts and activities aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

Quick Tips and Tactics

NSTA Discovering Science: Lesson Plans include a science experiment (test of concept) or demonstration (illustration of concept) to provide students with a clear understanding.
• The lesson plans are based on the Madeline Hunter model and incorporate the gradual release of responsibility approach. The lessons include direct instruction, guided practice with students, and students working independently, practicing or using knowledge.
• We designed the lessons to motivate students to learn actively and collaboratively.
We wanted to build content vocabulary, questioning skills, self-direction, and persistence. Most lessons feature extra activities and cross-curriculum extensions for review and reinforcement, as needed.
• As you coach the students, let them master the skill of following directions and experience the actual experiment and demonstration activities. (Be sure, however, to consider students’ ages and skills, level of difficulty, and safety concerns in determining if you should conduct the experiment and have them assist and observe you.)
• Materials identified in lists for the lessons include items that teachers would not typically have in the classroom. Such classroom items as paper, easel pads, crayons, and so on, are not listed.

Practical How-To Advice

• Insert the number of students in your class on the lesson plan, including how many boys and girls, as required by most school administrators.
• Preview the lessons and experiments, review materials needed, and check the book list and other resources.
• Revise or add to the lessons as needed—they are offered as word documents for ease of use.
• Create a science center in your room for science books and other materials—it may be helpful to have some items (hand lenses, small scales, etc.) on hand.
• Provide students with a special notebook for them to use as a science journal where they may record vocabulary, observations and findings, questions, experiences, and other reflections.

Finally, enjoy the lessons! And please let us know what you think – send feedback in the comments below.

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