At the start of the year, I asked my students to define science. Here are some of their responses …
Cool, huh? They have a lot of great ideas! Many of those ideas center around hands-on activities, which is awesome and definitely a huge part of science (in the classroom or out of the classroom). However, sometimes it’s hard to bring in hands-on stuff when the topic is too big, or too small, to grasp.
For example, we are currently in a unit on ecosystems. Right now, students are learning about how producers, consumers, and decomposers cycle energy in an ecosystem. Scientists usually make a model of this concept, in the form of a food web, to show how the energy moves. My students will do that as their summative assessment, so in order to include more hands-on stuff as they were learning, we incorporated some really cool things.
Some really cool living things, to be precise.
For producers, we started growing Wisconsin Fast Plants. While we can’t actually see photosynthesis, we can explain it as we watch them grow!
For consumers, we are raising monarch caterpillars. They are fun little dudes to have around and watch, as they eat a ton! We’ll tag and release them when they become butterflies and hopefully track their migration all the way to Mexico!
Finally, for decomposers, we are growing mushrooms. We just started, so there isn’t too much to see … but they are supposed to grow right out of the box.
All three are fun and moderately easy to do … and they give us all some cool stuff to watch in our science room!