Using Games to Teach Science Process Skills
The photo shows two kids transporting an empty soda can using an uncooked piece of spaghetti as a pole to carry the can. The kids are participating in a game taken from the TV game show, “Minute-to-Win” it. The objective of the game is for two people to transport and stand three empty soda cans using one piece of spaghetti threaded through one can’s pull tab, then with the ends of the spaghetti in their mouths they lift one can, transport it and repeat until all three cans are placed as directed. The video shows this game to be accomplished in one minute. Can you do this?
This game is fun and can be used to teach students how to design and develop a science project that meets all the rules of your school’s science fair.
I am going to do my best to use the popular 5E Lesson Plan Template, but know that I do not promote forcing every lesson into a specific template. It stifles my creativity.
Here is how I would use the 5E Lesson Plan to Teach the Science Process Skills.
|Object, event or question used to engage students. Connections facilitated between what students know and can do. |
If teachers have to do this for every lesson they don’t have time to teach. I am going to put my spin on engaging the class, which will be to get the kids attention–engaging them in what you what them to do. This will be done by informing them that they are going to play a game that was on the Minute to Win It TV program. You will have their attention for a micro-second, so get on to explaining the rules of the game, which you will find when you watch the video below. To save time, pair the kids so that the entire class will be experimenting at the same time. Speaking of time, since this is a practice activity, the minute time limit can be omitted. Just have pairs of kids working together. Odd man out gets to work with the teacher. You know if there is an uneven number of kids so pick your partner first. Even ask for volunteers. Plead if necessary to get a volunteer to work with you.
|Objects and phenomena are explored. Hands-on activities, with guidance.Now that you have kids paired and they have the supplies they need. Yes, organizing the supplies is always something to think about before class starts. To cut down on the amount of supplies. Let the goal of this practice investigation to be to move one can. The distance will depend on your classroom. So when planning, visualize the worst possible mayhem and how it could be prevented. Granted, some of the new teacher monitoring systems view mayhem as showing kids are sharing ideas. But, mayhem during a science investigation is not allowed. Plus, kids need to learn to share ideas more quietly. You can encourage this by announcing that later teams will be competing so they best not be sharing their ideas too loudly. Yea! I am promoting competition. Seems that competition could even get a check mark for modeling market economy better known as capitalism.|
|Students explain their understanding of concepts and processes. New concepts and skills are introduced as conceptual clarity and cohesion are sought.You know that someone who has not been in a real classroom in some time wrote this description. Yea! That is what I would be thinking about this time as I wipe the sweat from my brow and take a deep breath. Giving thanks that no one was poked in the eye with a spaghetti piece and that I got all the materials back in their place and the kids attention for the next part of the lesson.|
WOW! It just now occurred to me that goggle would definitely be a must. See how important it is for a teacher to create his/her own lessons. I’ve watched the video many times and goggle were never used. But there is a possibility that the spaghetti will break and fragments propelled into someone’s eye. Thus, better safe than sorry. The plastic goggles are uncomfortable–find out if a cheap pair of clear glasses would be acceptable for investigations like this. How wonderful it would be if every student had their own clear glasses for science investigations. No problem with sanitizing –this can be discussed another time.
Back to this Explanation Section.
Notice that students are supposed to do the investigation and miraculously become all-knowing about what and why things happened. The teacher is to give information only when students seek conceptual clarity and cohesion. UUM! I’ve only had this to happen in my dreams. In the real world of education, kids will be more interested in another fun game. Also, they were told what to do and were not given a problem to solve on their own. Thus, while explanation is a good title for this part of the lessons, you, the teacher will be providing information, and via questions will be obtaining information from your students. Thus, students will be revealing what they already know and what they did during the investigation.
Clues for Comments and Questions:
1. Introduce the term force as being a pushing or pulling action that can deform an object.
**** Push and Pull are not types of forces.
2. Describe force as a pushing or pulling action that causes an object to move. Ask if the can is pushing or pulling on the spaghetti. [Pulling down because of its gravitational force, which is its weight.]
Ask why the weight of the can doesn’t cause the spaghetti to fall or at least break. [The can’s weight is pulling down, but there is an upward push on each end of the spaghetti by the mouth of each person holding the spaghetti’s ends. This is much like the pillars supporting a Beam-Type Bridge. The spaghetti doesn’t break because the spaghetti is able to pull upwards with an equal amount of force. You got it, this is a very simple Action/Reaction example for Newton’s Third Law of Motion.Every force can be related to Newton’s Laws of motion, and after a time if you point them out kids will start identifying them on their own. Oops! Was this something I dreamed?]
Point out that the spaghetti “beam bridge” and soda can, which is called the “load” moves because the end supports (kids) move.
|Activities allow students to apply concepts in contexts, and build on or extend understanding and skill. Notice that there are no clues for teachers in the 5E plan. The 5E lesson plan is a progressive (constructivist) teaching philosophy that promotes the idea that teachers are to “Guide from the Side.” How is this philosophy working in your school district. My local school keeps failing the state tests, kids can only read words they have memorized, and —I could go on and on— If you want your students to learn, you must stop running up and down the sidelines and be the “Sage on the Stage.” Be the person your students respect and trust. Be the person that cares enough about your students to give them instructions. Who gets the blame for American children are doing poorly in science and math and everything else—TEACHERS!!! Texas teachers have a very active group working to remove any hint of CSCOPE and to allow teachers to actually teach instead of being “Guides on the Side.” Your opinions count. — |
For this lesson, the elaboration will be an extension of the game using the spaghetti to move a can. Give students the following challenge. Guide them through the inquiry processes for finding the answers.
Challenge: What effect would the number of spaghetti pieces have on the weight of the load supported?
The goal of the investigation is to find out how or if the independent variable causes the dependent variable to change.
Hypothesis: This is a prediction of what you think the answer of the question is. In other words, if you use two or more spaghetti pieces as the carrying “pole,” how would the number of spaghetti pieces relate to the weight that could be carried. Your choices would be that the number of spaghetti pieces has no effect on the weight of the load, the more spaghetti pieces the greater the load or the more spaghetti pieces the smaller the load that can be supported.
Now it is time to investigate. The experiment is done to test the hypothesis. The goal of the experiment to is collect data that either supports your hypothesis or doesn’t support your hypothesis. But sometimes the data doesn’t clearly do either. Thus, the test didn’t provide enough information and you either revise the test or design a new test.
Students now can use the same procedure or design another test procedure, such as supporting the ends of the spaghetti on stationary objects, such as two adjoining desks so that the soda can hangs between the desks with the spaghetti bridging the gap.
Materials: Spaghetti pieces, soda cans, weight to add to the cans (metal washers works well–water would be messy when the spaghetti breaks)
Conclusion: After students investigate, discuss their results. Remind them that the investigation was to test their hypothesis. Use a sample hypothesis and the data collected by a pair of students.
|Students assess their knowledge, skills and abilities. Activities permit evaluation of student development and lesson effectiveness.The 5E Progressive lesson plan leaves the teacher out. Thus, in Texas the schools that force the progressive philosophy have a high administrator to teacher ratio. This is to make sure that students are the ones in charge and teachers are guiding from the side. When the students fail, it will not be the administrators or students that parents will blame. It will be the teachers and they have no defense because they have only been guiding from the side line.—————————|
This can be a class assignment or homework.
Teachers must be the ones to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of students.
Now that the class has been directed through the science processes skills for solving a challenge question, either in pairs or independently, students can be given a new challenge problem to solve via an investigation. Students can use the spaghetti bridge procedure with a bit of tweaking or design a new experiment.
Challenge: What effect would the placement of a load on a bridge have on the weight the bridge will support?
Independent variable: placement of load
Decide what you want your students to turn in. Design a rubric or simply give detailed instruction for what must be done, such as the following: