Hands-on Activities for Key Science Concepts

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t able to blog as regularly in my second semester as in my first. In spite of this, I wanted to share some examples of our in-class science activities, since many of them could easily be used to teach important science skills in a variety of grades. Below, I’ve compiled a few of the activities that our Professor shared with us that I could see myself using in the classroom.

Teaching classification by sorting beads or buttons

In this activity, we were asked to sort a random assortment of beads (although buttons would also work) according to characteristics we felt were important. This activity could be an effective lead into teaching scientific classification.

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Teaching potential and kinetic energy with a mini catapult project

Our teacher began this activity by asking us to split into partners or small groups and then handing out material for building a mini catapult (elastic bands, popsicle sticks, cups, etc). We were then asked to build the most effective catapult that we could and afterwards we tested our catapults by shooting small pieces of paper down the hallway. This is a great STEM activity that could be used to teach some key concepts in physics, like kinetic and potential energy.

Teaching resistance and air pressure with a paper helicopter

This activity was quick and easy to begin because we were provided with a simple template to cut out and fold. Once we had put together our paper helicopter, it was easy to see the effects of the air’s resistance on the helicopter blades. It was also easy for us to practice building a table of our data as we modified elements of the helicopter to see how those small changes would affect its decent.

Practicing the scientific method by testing paper towel absorbency

In this activity, we practiced the scientific method by applying the same amount of water to a variety of different paper towel brands. We were able to see which brand was most absorbent by stacking small squares and checking to see how many squares the water would seep through in each stack.

Science should be hands-on

So far this science course was one of my favourite courses in my program. Our teacher applied the same concept to us, that I hope to apply to my students: students will learn more by experimenting first hand than by sitting and listening. The activities we did in class were great examples of hands-on learning that I intend on using in my own teaching practice. As teachers in the digital age, we are so lucky to have a variety of project based science lessons right at our fingertips. Websites like Explorables, ScienceKids, and HomeScienceTools are just a few examples of the many websites with ready-to-go lesson plans for teachers. I’m looking forward to applying this hands-on approach to science as I move forward in my teaching practice.




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