Day 6 – Experimental Design

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Science 8 – Today the science 8 classes started work on experimental design.  I totally love the Smarter Science approach to inquiry and experimental design.

At some point I mention how we really don’t need a hypothesis for an experiment, what we really need is a question.  There were a couple of students that were visibly pleased when I mentioned this, I guess they were also confused as to why we have to guess an outcome when there is no benefit in doing so.

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Day 25: Using Smarter Science

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Science 8. Today we worked through an experiment using the Smarter Science framework. I could see its usefulness, as there were several places where students were tripping up in the process. In previous classes we talked through the experiment while I wrote things down on my tablet. Today’s class I tried using the post-it notes as shown in the photo above. I think that for grade 8’s, the overhead projector with both me and students writing at the same time was better. Using post-it notes left the kids doing nothing for a bit… They would just be watching me move the notes. It caused them to be too distracted.

What was really interesting to me was that a few students ended up with test procedures that were trying to test two variables at once. I’m looking forward to doing this again soon.

Day 23: Professional Development Day

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[Science 8, Science 9, Physics 11]  Friday was a PRO-D for everyone in BC. I attended the BC Science Teachers Association conference. The keynote speaker was a forensic etymologist from SFU. She spoke about her studies/profession. While I found it mildly interesting, I have no idea why that was the keynote. I think I could have spent an hour doing a keynote on how Course Planning is a lot like Quality Assurance programs. Or something. Anything, really.

I had signed up for two sessions with the Smarter Science people. Smarter Science is a framework for conducting inquiry in the science classroom, and the gradual release of responsibility that goes with inquiry. I wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of it, as I have been trying to incorporate inquiry for a few years now. However, it turns out that the morning session was just what I needed. We worked through their framework by using an example. The example was eerily similar to an inquiry session I did with my grade 8 students (dissolving starch packing peanuts). The difference is that Smarter Science provides a concrete framework around the work. We had done the same steps, but each step wouldn’t have been so clear to my students. Our inquiry was more like living in the moment, whereas if I had the framework in place the students would have had a better vehicle for reflecting on the work that they had done.

I would encourage all science teachers to take a look at the Smarter Science website: http://smarterscience.youthscience.ca/