Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
2nd grade Next Gen Science standards talk about Ecosystems.  One big concept in this unit is interdependence!  Here's a look at the book, activity and craft that I used to build understanding about interdependence within an ecosystem.
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We start by reading this awesome trade book about the cactus ecosystem in the desert.
Image result for the cactus hotel

As we read, we chart all of the biotic and abiotic parts in this ecosystem.  I also add arrows to show how some of these parts depend on each other as well as the cactus.

Then, we do a cut and paste activity to show the interconnectedness of the cactus hotel.

Next, we write about our own cactus hotel.  We brainstorm who we depend on in our lives and how we depend on them (mom for dinner, house for a warm place to stay...).  And we also talk about anyone or anything that depends on us (pets for food, bedroom for cleaning...). 

We also make this cute cactus craft to display with our writing.  

Here's how I made this 3D cactus craft!

I cut out the templates from the ecosystems unit.  I cut 3 large green ovals and two small green ovals.  Plus, I cut 3 brown pots.

I folded the large ovals in half and then glued the halves together so that it made a 3D cactus.

I used a black crayon to add the lines and ridges.

Next, I cut small lime green triangles to add a few spikes to the cactus.

Finally, I added a pink tissue paper flower to the top and stapled the brown pots around the base.

This 3D cactus will stand up or you can put a string through a top hole and hang them!  If you want to display the cactus with your cactus hotel writing, you can also make a 2D version to glue above the writing!

All of these templates, charts and activities can be found in this second grade Ecosystems Unit.

In kindergarten, students learn about force and motion through the Next Gen Science Standards.  And what better way to explore force and motion than through building rollercoasters?
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Kindergarten STEM is tricky.  We want them to build and explore, but often times they don't have enough experience to build complicated things from scratch.

So, when Cooper and I tested out this coaster challenge, I knew his Marble Run set would be the perfect way to make this challenge more accessible for my kindergartner.

I read the problem slide to him.  And then he planed out his idea.

We just orally talked about his plan.  And then he got to work building his coaster.

It was a lot of fun to watch his brain and problem solving skills work.  Sometimes, the ball stopped its motion.  So he had to redirect it or turn the slides a different way.

In this picture below, the ball kept falling to the ground after it left the orange twist.  He couldn't connect anything else to it, so he rearranged the pieces so that the green piece would just sit underneath the orange twist and "catch" the marble so it would stay in motion on the coaster!

I absolutely loved the process my guy had to go through with this project.  It was true STEM with build, test, improve, build, test, improve....but with premade materials.  That simple scaffold made the critical pieces of STEM accessible to my kinder kid while still encouraging high level critical thinking skills!

In the classroom, I might limit groups to 10 pieces to build a coaster, but at home with one kid, I was able to be more flexible.  And, of course, my kid wanted to use every. single. piece. :)  Here is his finished coaster.

And the video of how it worked!

After he finished building and testing his coaster, we wrote about his coaster using the publishing page from the unit with the sentence stems.

Finally, he drew the path of his coaster to finish publishing his project!

You can find this STEM challenge separately here or in this Kindergarten Next Gen Science Unit on Force and Motion.

We have been talking second grade science!  Specifically, we'll chat about the Next Gen standards on landforms and how to implement hands on activities, science labs, and STEM challenges while learning about Earth's surface.  You can catch up on all of the blog posts here:

Maybe it's because it's summer here right now.  Maybe it's because I haven't been to the beach in five years.  Or maybe it's because the kid in me just loves sandcastles.

No matter what the reason, I knew this sandcastle stem project had to be a part of our landforms unit as soon as I discovered this book by Robert Munsch during my research!

Here's a closer look into our sandcastle erosion STEM challenge for 2nd graders!
(This post contains affiliate links to help  fund my chocolate addiction and support this corner of cyber space)

What's the Problem?

We start by reading The Tide Is Coming In.  This is a simple book with great vocabulary and frames the sandcastle problem perfectly!  The ending is very open ended and leaves a good opportunity for students to hypothesize about what happened to the sandcastle!

Then, I read the scenario on our problem slide we use for our STEM projects and challenges.

We brainstorm ideas within our partners or groups for how to solve Pat's problem.  Then, it's time to make a plan!

Planning the Solution

During the planning phase, we work to talk out our solution.  What will it look like? Why do you think it will work?  How will you build it?  Will there be any problems with it?  

Our guiding questions are on our plan slide along with pictures of materials to spark their thinking and ideas.

Once they have talked through their plan, they come get the planning page.  Here they will write down how their plan will protect the sandcastle.  They will list out the materials they need and sketch a picture of their solution.
NOTE: I tried this out with my almost 6 year old, so his answers are obviously simpler than most second grade answers or written responses would be! :)

Build the Solution

On the second day of this Sandcastle STEM Challenge, students will collect the materials they need and begin building their solution.

To prep for this day, you will want to put a "sandcastle" (a cup of sand) in a foil pan with some sand around it.  Students will be building their solution in relation to the sandcastle inside their foil pan.

While they are building, you will need to actively walk around and continue asking the planning questions to keep them on track and focused on solving the problem.

I would definitely recommend setting a timer for this to keep them focused and to make sure too much instruction time isn't lost here.

Share and Publish

The third day is all about sharing their solution and testing them out to see if they work.  Because the solutions are all in foil pans, students can easily bring their pan in front of the class and talk through their solution.  The share slide gives the questions students will answer during their presentation: How does your plan protect Pat's sandcastle?  How did you build it? Does your plan work?  

When it's time for the last question, it's time to test out the solution!  I get a pitcher of water and fill the pan with "ocean water."  Then, the group sloshes the water to mimic ocean waves.  They must slosh it 10 times.  After 10 times, they stop and we observe to see if their solution worked and talk about why it did or didn't work.

During our writing time, we publish our solution and reflect on how well our solution worked, how we could improve it and by drawing our final solution.

This STEM challenge can be found separately here and with more landform activities in this Next Gen Landforms unit.
We have been talking second grade science!  Specifically, we'll chat about the Next Gen standards on landforms and how to implement hands on activities, science labs, and STEM challenges while learning about Earth's surface.  You can catch up on all of the blog posts here:

I love when creativity and science meet and become friends!  And that's why I love this STEM project so much!
(This post contains affiliate links to help  fund my chocolate addiction and support this corner of cyber space)

Before we get started talking about this challenge, can we just all agree to play "Islands in the Stream" while our students build their perfect island.  Yes? Good.  I knew we were good friends! #thesongthatneverends

For my STEM projects and challenges in my Next Gen units, I like to use my "Invent Me" anchor chart to help primary kids understand the steps to solving a problem.  I first started using this with my first graders and it made inventions and problem/solution projects SOOOO much easier!

What's the Problem?

First, I pull up our problem slide and read the problem scenario to the kids.  We discuss what our ideal island is and why.  And we use our new vocabulary to talk about what landforms and bodies of water it will have.

Plan the Idea

The rest of the first day is spent planning their ideal island.  We pull up their questions on the Plan slide and talk about what materials they might use to build the island.

Then, they work with a partner to draw and illustrate their island.  They will draw a map of the island from a bird's eye view. and use the checklist to make sure they have the landforms and water bodies they need.

Build the Island

On the second day, partners will work to build their island on a paper plate.  They can use play-doh for this or you can use this homemade salt dough recipe.

Once the island forms are built, it's time to label the landforms.  Use toothpicks and post-it flags to label.  Write on the labels first before wrapping around the toothpicks.

Then, leave the islands to dry overnight.

Share and Publish the Island

On the third day, students can paint the island (no need to do this if you use play-doh) and then share.  If you build the island first thing in the morning on day two, you might be able to quickly paint at the end of the day to organize your time better.

For share time, the partners will pair up with another set of partners to compare their islands.  They will listen to each other talk about their island.  They will observe and tell whats the same and what's different.  They will work together to fill out the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast their ideal islands.

Publish the island models with the planning sheets!

This STEM project and much more can be found separately here and in this Next Gen Landforms unit!

We have been talking second grade science!  Specifically, we'll chat about the Next Gen standards on landforms and how to implement hands on activities, science labs, and STEM challenges while learning about Earth's surface.  You can catch up on all of the blog posts here:
Google Earth Landforms Tour
Earthquake Structures Science Lab
Volcano Effects Science Lab
Ideal Island STEM Challenge
Weather + Erosion Stations
Sandcastles STEM Challenge

Let's talk EARTHQUAKES today!  I'm just a southern gal who's lived in Arkansas all my life, so I don't have much experience with earthquakes.

BUT, in the last few years, we have actually had some very small earthquakes.  Like so small that I don't even know they happened until I see everyone's "Whoah, what the heck was that?" posts on Facebook!

And actually, the last one I did feel some vibrations, but didn't realize it was actually an earthquake until my husband came home from work.

So, I truly don't know what it's like to have to build a house that will sustain an earthquake.  That's part of the reason why I love this activity so much.  It just feels so exotic to me!  Here's a closer look at this science lab!
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Here is what you need for this simple experiment.

Wooden blocks
Cookie Sheet

If you are like me and don't have a ton of wooden blocks, this can easily be set up as a station.  I always have a content station during my guided reading groups and literacy stations that integrates reading or writing into science or social studies.  For second graders, this lab would be super easy to use for a station because it doesn't take a lot of adult help.  The directions are straight forward and there is no spill risk to have to oversee!

If you are lucky enough to have plenty of wooden blocks and cookie sheets to go around, then it will work well for everyone to do it together during your science block.


First, we built a house out of wooden blocks on the cookie sheet that we thought would be able to survive the earthquake.
NOTE: It's clear from the structures my son created that he's five...and doesn't completely understand physics yet, LOL!

Then, we drew predictions to answer the question, "What will happen when we shake the wooden block structure?"

Then it was time to make an earthquake.  You can have them shake the cookie sheet back and forth and observe the effects.  When we did this, we created a weak earthquake by shaking the sheet slowly.  And then we made a stronger earthquake by shaking faster.

And thanks to my hubby for the background music...he's the one in our family always finding just the perfect songs to play in the background during our projects and this one would be perfect in the classroom with this experiment! :)

Then, we recorded our observations and made a conclusion about why the building did not survive.

Next, we did the same thing with a lego structure.

Cue the music... #jumptheline

Finally, we evaluated which structure was the safest and why?

This is also what happens when you give a five year old a second grade experiment! #simplethoughts

You can grab this science lab handout for FREE here.  Or get the entire Landforms unit here.

We have been talking second grade science!  Specifically, we'll chat about the Next Gen standards on landforms and how to implement hands on activities, science labs, and STEM challenges while learning about Earth's surface.  You can catch up on all of the blog posts here:

Any time spent in my corner of the cyber world and you'll learn that I love stations.  I love giving kids a chance to explore and learn on their own in hands on ways.  Today, I'm sharing my tips and tricks for organizing and planning for exploration stations to learn about weathering and erosion.
(This post contains affiliate links to help  fund my chocolate addiction and support this corner of cyber space)

Station Set-Up

Before your station day, make sure you have all the materials you need (which are linked in this post).  Print out the station label cards with the directions on either brown (weathering) or green (erosion) cardstock and laminate.

Hang the station signs around the room.  Spread out the stations so that there is enough privacy to keep kids focused.  Think about which stations will work okay on the floor and which ones might need a table or desk.

I also suggest coming up with your groups ahead of time too so that less classroom time is taken up with trivial tasks.

I am going over the 8 stations we used in this post.  If you need more stations, or if there are one or two of these that you don't think will work for your classroom, you can substitute the landform word search and or crossword puzzle for a station to make an easy set up and change the pace.  That's totally up to you!

There are directions on each station label card, so you should not have to give specific directions for each station.  You will need to go over expectations and any classroom management things you need to address (stay in your station, stay focused the entire time, clean your space before you move, cooperate with your group...)

Set a classroom timer for 4-5 minutes depending on your kids.  When they hear the timer, they will quickly clean and move to the next station.  **CLEANING TIP: For stations where cups need to have the water emptied for each new group...Simply leave a bowl or foil pan for kids to dump the old water so they don't have to run to the sink each time they clean up.

Chemical Weathering: Skittles

At this station, students will fill cups with water and then put one skittle in each cup.

One cup will stay still.  For the other cup, they will swirl it slowly to mimic moving water.

Then, they will make observations on their recording sheet.

Chemical Weathering: Alka-Seltzer

Fill up a clear cup with water.  Then, drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet into the cup and observe.  Make observations on the recording sheet.

Physical Weathering: Gravel & Sugar Cubes

Fill a clear cup with a small handful of gravel (we used some extra gravel from our fish/shark tank!) and 5 sugar cubes.  Cover the cup with a hand and gently shake the cup.  Let one person shake for about 30 seconds and observe.  Then, let another friend shake for about 30 seconds and observe.  Let everyone have a chance at shaking the cup.  Record the final observations on the recording sheet.

Physical Weathering: Sandpaper

At this station, kids will get a new rock (or you can use cheap decorative rocks from Walmart like I did...just make sure they are shiny). They will take turns rubbing the rock with the sandpaper.  

Rub gently and quickly and make observations for both.  Record the observations on the recording sheet.

When kids clean up, they will need to put away the rock in a separate bag (or the trash if you don't want to keep them), so that the next group can start fresh with a new rock.  The sandpaper can be reused.

Chemical Weathering: Chalk

When setting up this station, go ahead and break apart the chalk into small pieces about an inch or so long.

Students will fill one cup with water and one with vinegar.  Put a piece of chalk in each cup.  Observe and compare the differences in weathering.  Record observations on the recording sheet.  If you look closely, you can see the indentions where the chalk is weathering away.

Erosion Station: Beach

For this station set up, you will need to "build" a sand beach in the bottom of a foil pan.  The day of the stations, add about an inch of water to the pan.

When students come to this station, they will gently "slosh" the water in the pan to mimic a beach.  Note the word gently.  And stalk those special friends to make sure they've noted the word gently too! :)

Then, they will record their observations to show how the beach changed.  Before leaving this station, they will need to make sure the beach is moved back to one side for the next group.  TIP: Use a spoon to fix the beach to keep the hands clean and save on clean up time!

Erosion Station: Sand + Water

To prep for this station, you need a bowl of sand, a foil pan, and water.

At this station, students will use a cup to build a simple sandcastle.  Then, they will spray in with a water bottle and observe the changes.

We did a few times with the spray and then a few times with the direct squirt line from the bottle.  My kiddo was a BIG fan of all the holes he could make in the castle.

Next, they will pour water over it from a cup and observe the changes.  They can talk about the differences in the effects and why each was different.

For clean up, they just need to put the sand back into the bowl.

Erosion Station: Sand + Wind

Prep this station the exact same way as the sand + water station, but no water is needed.

At this station, students will use a cup of sand to build a simple sandcastle again.  They, they will use a straw to blow through onto the sand castle to mimic wind.  We tried with 3 different sizes of straws.

They'll observe and record any changes they see.  To add to this station, put straws of different diameters and let each person try a different straw (no, I'm definitely not condoning straw sharing)!

For clean up, pleae for the sake of all that is germy in the world...make those kiddos trash the straws they used! :)

This activity and all the printouts you need can be found in this Next Gen Landforms unit.

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