Friday, April 24, 2020

Life Science Plant Specimen Dissection or Separation of Parts by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland! I'm Becca S, the blog owner. This post is to share some photos of a 6th grader's efforts at home with a variation to my suggestion for gathering some plant specimens for a small collection. When the remote learning switched from plants to invertebrates with earthworms as a topic, I made a Google Classroom comment about earthworms being one of the very first things I learned to dissect in Biology I. This female 6th grader started exchanging comments with me fascinated on how to open a worm.

At home this student isn't quite dissecting but she is gently pulling apart and separating then identifying parts with labeling. She's doing all this on her own as an extension activity (extra; not required). I'm impressed. She's formatted everything neatly which was something learned in science class before Act of God Days and Remote Learning. Permission has been received to share her photos from 2 recent days:



*parts that make a whole
*identifying parts
*labeling parts
*formatting; layout organization
*documenting by collecting a specimen
*documenting by photography
*use of technology by sharing digitally the photograph with teacher

I'm making this blog post short and sweet to let the amazing work of a 11-12 year old speak for itself.

Thanks, mystery student!

Teaching and Learning in the USA Heartland:

Becca S
Illinois certification endorsements:
FACS grades 6-12
Birth to Grade 3

General Science grades 5-8

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Life Science Plant Specimen Photography by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grade 6 to 8 from USA Heartland! I'm Becca S! I live, teach, and do science in the Midwest. Crazy temperatures last week in the midst of a crazy world fighting to stay alive. The focus of this post is not the pandemic but some amazing closeup photographs snapped by one of my 6th graders. Student "C" has taken on the challenge of doing the extensions I've suggested, which means this is extra. It's not required as part of the pass/fail system that our district has during Remote Learning Days.

My extension suggestions for each JH grade have been a scientific lab-related skill that they can safely do at home with minimal fuss and supplies.

The 6th graders have just switched from plants to animals (invertebrates) in the past 3 school days, so collecting or photographing plant specimens got continued for a few more days.

Student "C" provided facts about each plant along with a full specimen photo and a closeup pic. The quality of the snapshots have been fantastic! I've really enjoyed receiving this student's yard tour!

Remember this is a sixth grader. 3rd quarter we've tried to work on lab drawing and realism art skills like accurate details, sizing, and scale. This student has remembered to tell me the plant name, where it is commonly found, and several characteristics of it. By taking the photograph, "C" is documenting and by relaying it to me, "C"'s sharing his work. And now with his and his parents' permissions, internet technology is giving us the opportunity to share with a larger audience. (THANK YOU.)

Enjoy Earth's variety on this Earth Day evening:

And the final one I've saved is a 'lone wolf'=

There have been a few others I've seen but I failed to save. However with these that are featured in this blog post, please take time to click on the closeup photos to zoom out in order to be amazed at the intricate details that can be observed.

Thanks for taking time to read and view how a few of us are DOING science in the USA heartland!

--Becca S
B.S. Secondary Education-Home Economics proficiency and M. Ed. Elementary Ed w/ ECE emphasis
Illinois State Board of Education = 
*approval for general science grades 5-8
*endorsement in ECE/Birth to Grade 3
*endorsement in FACS grades 6-12

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Physical Science Pre Chemistry Mixtures or Solutions Demonstration shared by student

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland blog! I'm Becca S and I have several blogs about different educational interests, genealogy research, and paper-crafting projects. This particular one focuses on sharing hands-on experiences with current junior high science students--even remotely delivered. Yes.

Before Act of God days and now in Remote Learning days designated during stay at home orders, eighth graders had started some pre-chemistry topics about mixtures and solutions. I thought proceeding might be too difficult for students to do on their own so I switched to sound and light waves and electricity basics worksheets during our first 3 weeks. Now that the students have received their textbooks during a school district designated curbside delivered pick-up, I've backtracked to assign textbook reading and questions in order to further their understanding.

However I thought a great extension or extra they could do would be to send me photos showing examples of household tasks that they believe demonstrates a mixture or a solution. So far I have 3 students of 16 who have attempted this and 1 has sent me some phenomenal sequenced pics that I asked her for permission to share with my blog readers.

This is from "A"=

Yesterday she demonstrated chocolate milk made with Ovaltine and skim milk. The photos were sequenced just like the montage seen above.

I just thought this was a phenomenal way to have students still DOING science.

She's documenting, sharing results, using technology for the documenting and sharing, demonstrating sequential formatting, etc.

LOVE this!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Life Science Grade 6 Plant Specimen Drawings

Building skills of lab drawings, charts, illustrations, and/or timelines

During the last 7 weeks of third quarter in winter-early spring of 2020, junior high students have had skills challenges on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first 10-20 minutes of class related to weekly content.

Just before the stay-at-home orders for Covid-19 virus, the sixth graders had skills challenges to recreate illustrations of root tip, internal view of phloem and xylem for a plant stem, and 2 others before being given the challenge of a 20 minute specimen drawing to fill a full page! 

Three different plants were placed at different lab tables with 6 students at each plant. Students were divided on each side of the plants and were told to strive for realism from the perspective of their location. 

At this junior high, having a weekly art class stopped at the end of 5th grade. So even though this was assigned to develop their lab drawing skills before they reach 9th grade biology or honors biology, it benefitted the students with creative learning styles tremendously. [and I realize some of you would be baffled about the time span between 3rd quarter sixth grade and 1st quarter ninth grade, but now after 2 weeks of being homebound, I'm so VERY thankful for the time we did have and the progress that I was already seeing, especially with this age group.]

At this age and stage, I still have 3 boys and 1 girl who are very heavy handed with their lead pencils! Their skills progression to be precise, accurate, and finely detailed has been painstakingly slow. 

I don't have photos of the finished drawings, yet, but these are from their drawing time as I was walking around and monitoring their work:

Each plant has the same container with a bit of dried floral moss but the type of plant and size vary greatly.

6th graders!!! Involved!

100% student engagement! The students didn't want to stop which says a lot for the progress they've been making from the first skill challenge back in late January! I would have heard moaning and groaning complaints like I can't draw that!, I can't draw for 20 minutes!, Do I have to?, etc. (tee-hee; oh, my brilliant plans are coming together perfectly, my little chickadees!!!!)

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S

aka Mrs. S. or Mrs. Sadler


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Science Grade 7 Rock Layers with Geologic Time Scale Model

Making a model using simple kitchen sponges, paper, and 2 small toy dinosaurs

An important emphasis in science is giving the students opportunities to create models. During a chapter about formation of rock layers (after learning about the 3 types of rocks), I set some time in our schedule for groups of 3 to 4 students to create a rock layer model based on the type of tiny plastic toy dinosaurs (2) were randomly given to them. [This was with 7th graders and made about 2 months ago, maybe...I'm thinking end of January to first week or so in February...]

This [identifying dinosaurs] required a quick online search and then referral to the text copy of the GTS. Does the dinosaur belong to the Jurassic, Cretaceous, other period? If both are from the same millions of  years span or different ones, where were they to be placed? They were instructed to use the sponges as thick layers and have at least 2 thin layers [shown] using sections of yellow copy paper. Sponges were to be labeled on at least 1 side.

The models aren't very glamorous but they were effective in students working together to ask questions and solve the mysteries of which eons were going to be represented:

Students didn't really understand the connection between the fossil record and the geologic time scale until creating this model. 

What are your hands-on visualized ways to help students cognitively start comprehending in some small way the enormity of how the Earth was made?

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S

aka Mrs. S. or Mrs. Sadler

Science Grade 7 Astronomy Simulation about Age and Distance Between Stars

Using Raisin Crème Cakes for simulation activity in Astronomy

Another quick post about an activity with 7th graders that occurred about 2-3 months ago when learning about stars, what their colors signify about their age and their distance. 

The Holt module text teacher edition had an activity suggestion that sparked my thoughts about using Little Debbie's Raisin Crème Cakes to measure distances of raisins as the stars.

100% engagement!!! Students used notebook paper or copy paper to trace a circle around the perimeter of their crème cake. They also needed to draw accurate sizes and locations for each raisin/star that was on the surface of the top part. They were instructed to identify a starting point and label each raisin star with a letter of the alphabet.

Next came the measuring and recording of distances between stars. Because this was 7th grade level working in a 40-45 minute class period, I had them do the measuring from A to B, C to D, E to F, etc. If I remember correctly, maybe 2 or 3 added some extra distances. An accommodation for IEP students were that a minimum of 7 measurements were to be part of their recording sheet.

Students could only eat their crème cake after I deemed that all the required data was completed.

Living in land-locked central Illinois, this was a great hands-on laboratory type activity to be included in our lessons about astronomy. A month before this they had to pick a star to study for a diorama presentation titled "A Star is Born". Learning about white dwarf, red dwarf, blue, and yellow stars became a bit easier with the cake portion representing the sky/outer space and the raisins as stars. Traveling to a planetarium wasn't possible. Looking at NASA website helped. Looking at some marvelous paintings by my talented cousin trying to capture the night sky helped. Plotting and measuring the distances of raisins definitely helped the 7th graders conceptualize the significances of color and age in stars.

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S
aka Mrs. S or Mrs. Sadler

Life Science Grade 6 simulation for slime molds

Using oobleck to simulate texture of slime molds

About 2 months ago in 6th grade science the module textbook about Microorganisms-Fungi-Plants, identifying slime molds was part of a section included with bacteria, molds, and viruses. I thought using oobleck has a simulation activity for the texture would be helpful for this age of student.

At the time student desks were arranged in pods. This class has 18 students so the room has 3 sets of 4 desks and then 2 sets of three. Each pod received a bowl with cornstarch, a beaker with water, and a plastic spoon for each container (with strict orders not to mix the spoons up and 'contaminate' their supplies). Each student received paper towels to protect their desk, a clear cup, a spoon for mixing and stirring.

Food coloring was distributed about midway to make sure the students got their basic oobleck made.

Some students because of their hand size being too big, ended up cutting off the top half of their cups in order to use their fingers to get ahold of the mix better. 100% engagement with this activity. On my end, I was leading a discussion and asking questions about how this reminded them of photos seen in textbook and online about slime molds

Students' comments were interesting and they understood the analogy. 

Here are two pics taken during the activity:

I found a form online that goes through the steps and cautions students to use a little bit of water when adding to the cornstarch. That was read before supplies were distributed. 

Overall, this was a great opportunity for the students to have a hands-on and safe activity for their chapter and it also led to discussion about how this would work for other science topics (physical and chemical changes). 

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S
aka Mrs. S/Mrs. Sadler

Earth Science Grade 7 simulation for surface mining

Digging out chocolate chips with a toothpick

Yes, what a fun engaging way to have 100% participation! Students quickly picked up on the analogies and the application and analysis of this simulation proved to be easy and effective! Recall for the chapter test a week later proved again with effectiveness because no one missed the questions related to this!

Chocolate chips = rocks
Cookie part = soil/Earth's crust
toothpick = mining tool

Students are encouraged to not pick out chips with their fingernails. They are to use their provided tool for their digging. They were asked to draw a circle on their paper towel around each cookie so that at the end they were to reclaim the soil. They were given 2 different manufacturers' product in order to simulate the idea of variances in soil types.

Terms bandied about were surface mining, strip mining, reclamation, equipment, environment, etc. 

Photos are with the 7th grade. To be honest, I used this earlier in the quarter with 6th grade when their environmental science module text (by Holt) discussed fossil fuels of coal's negative impact on the environment. The term reclamation was a key word for their application process, too. 8th grade later on, had a similar section in their Forces-Motion-Energy module text (again by Holt) about fossil fuels, pollution, and impacts on environment.

Here are some photos of several students' hands-on work:

This activity is modified from an original I read about 30 years ago from the U. S. Mining office in Colorado (long before internet usage they had an advertisement in a teacher magazine encouraging teachers to write for a resource packet to be sent to them.) The full 'game' they prepared involved economics, business, finance aspects with Monopoly-like money for students to use to buy their 'land' and their 'equipment'. Metal paperclips were $10 each and round or flat toothpicks were $5 each. I forget what the cookie prices were but they encouraged teachers to have 3 different types available: soft, chewy, and a hard. If you have block scheduling this method would be better for the longer time needed. If you have 40-45 minute class periods, the money and purchases would need to be distributed for a day 1 activity period and the actual digging and any subsequent purchasing to occur on day 2. Another aspect for this economic version is for the teacher to act as a coal buyer and to determine pricing for buying back their tiny chips or whole 'nuggets'. This gives them the opportunity to add income. Having a spread sheet or some type of financial worksheet for debits and credits would be helpful for students to easily track their money. 

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S (Mrs. S.) :)

Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland blog

Friday, March 27, 2020

Science and Snack Time Idea for ECE about Springtime Animals

Woolly Sheep

Springtime is a great time at any age level to learn about animals' body parts, baby animals, names of parents vs baby animals, etc. My maternal grandparents had sheep for many years. My mom's childhood stories don't include much about the sheep but more about disasters in the chicken coop instead! You would think there was some childhood trauma involved about her recall of crossing paths with a snake on one occasion and a dead opossum at another time!!! Oh, the drama in her storytelling! 

Sheep or lamb? Hoof, claw, or foot?

Get children excited with discussions about names of parents vs offspring in the animal kingdom with a tasty snack:

*jumbo marshmallow
*mini marshmallows
*pretzel sticks
*honey (acts as the glue)
*Honey Nut puff cereal or Cheerios to give texture 

This is a messy yet yummy snack once it is assembled.

For upper elementary, this could be a lesson opener or could be a closure activity after a chapter test is completed. 

If this science snack is at the start of the chapter/unit, the teacher could be using chart paper or typing in an open document visible on the Smart Board showing columns to compare different body parts of animals:
feet vs hooves vs claws/talons vs _________
beaks/bills vs mouths vs ________
noses vs snouts vs _________
gills vs lungs vs ______________
tails vs no tails
and so on

Stay tuned for more science ideas to engage students' attention and involvement. 

For Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland blog,
Becca S

B. S. Secondary Education-Home Economics; certified FACS grades 6-12 in Illinois; approval for general science in grades 5-8; pending approval ECE endorsement
M. Ed. Elementary Education-Early Childhood Education; 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Science Concept Two Parts of Earth Surface Activity for Younger Students

Earth's Surface Has Two Main Parts of Land and Water

With Earth Day approaching in about a month, I prepared a matching activity to be part of a series of indoor and outdoor activities divided between what's on land and what's in water for kindergarteners.

Explaining concepts to youngsters need to be kept simple. For Earth Day I like to concentrate for the ECE level on the 2 colors green and blue--green for land and blue for water. By 1st or 2nd grade, using the word continents and islands instead of land might make a bit more sense than those in kindergarten. Same for differentiating between ocean water or river or pond...for little ones, water is water.

So an easy way to transition youngsters on this new way to distinguish blue from green to designate water from land, prepare a simple page and matching cut-outs like the ones shown in the photo:

The number four was picked as enough spots to place on a single sheet of blue cardstock. A heart was stenciled on and outlined in marker with 'LOVE' written in it and then 'We' written to the left side with 'Earth' on the right. Four different patterned papers were used to trace and cut out 2 circles from each design. One set were glued on the traced spots and the other set were mounted to white cardstock circles for extra durability.

The sheet was placed in a plastic sheet protector. As you work with a small group of children at a table or give a mini lesson before placing this in a science center, share with the students that the blue represents large ocean water and the green paper spots are representing islands/land (small amounts of land). They need to find each islands matching island.

Visually and representationally the very basic earth science concept about parts of the Earth's surface can be learned.

Being able to match 1-to-1 is a basic math counting/number skill.

Other idea to expand on the Earth's 2 surface parts of water and land:
a. sensory bin or bowl containing blue and green shredded paper or colored rice can be the massive amount with small items like blue and green marbles can be what children need to find; add math skill of sorting/categorizing by having blue and green small bowls or cups for the kids to place the miniature lakes (blue) and islands (green) into.

Extend to creatures that live in water and those that live on land:
b. outdoors/gross motor: have a blue tarp laid on the ground for the water and a green military tarp or shower curtain laid out for land. Take items from the classroom or maybe some prepared magazine pics or internet printed images glued to cardstock/file folder cut-outs. Students stand around the outside edges and take turns coming to get a picture/item to toss onto the correct colored tarp. Two shared early science and math skills are making observations and sorting/classifying. And science concepts are now extending past the Earth's two surface areas to include recognizing animals that live predominantly in each area.
Example: a stuffed animal dolphin gets tossed onto the blue tarp
Example: a stuffed animal bunny gets tossed onto the green tarp

If your facility has an indoor gym or large open classroom floor space, this could be done inside.

Enjoy helping children of all ages learn more about our Earth.

Life Science Plant Specimen Dissection or Separation of Parts by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland ! I'm Becca S, the blog owner. This post is to share some photos of a 6th grader ...