One of the things I’ve been emphasizing with my grade 8 students this year is the need for them to keep their curiosity, and to keep observing interesting things. This of course leads nicely into using microscopes. As a learning task, kids were asked to wet mount a piece of paper with small letters and to record what they see. Several students on their own decided to use their phone to take pictures through their eyepieces.
While I am a believer in using technology in education, I also feel that most typical technology uses in school are unnecessary and perhaps even harmful. However, I liked that students took photos. It showed initiative and independent thought.
Today we worked on observations, by recording details of apples and then studying how a starch packing peanut dissolves in water. This led to our next discussion about scientific methods: asking questions, and coming up with testable ideas. What follows is a list of questions the students had about packing peanuts. With my help, they then decided on which questions were testable in our classroom (highlighted in green).
Of course, that we’re not going to test #1 is a major disappointment! Next day’s plan is for the students to split up and devise an experimental plan to test one question (per group). With these activities, we will go over experimental design and controls in an interesting and authentic way.