Hands-On At Home
During this time of pandemic, student learning will continue through the use of meaningful and intentional technology. However, there are some areas of engagement that will never fully be the same as what could be experienced in the brick and mortar classroom. This includes exploration in the science classroom through the use of hands-on experiments and labs. As a science teacher, there are a wealth of resources available online to use with my students. Nevertheless, I am passionate about my students exploring and engaging in hands-on learning experiences.
The problem that I have identified in this time of uncertainty is can we continue to create a science learning environment that encourages exploration and experimentation even from home or in a combination of in class and remote learning? As cited in an Ed week article called, “How Effective is Online Learning?,” research completed by Karl Alexandar states that “students, especially those with fewer resources at home, learn less than when they are at school.” This is why there is a need to ensure students have those materials at home, especially when engaging in science exploration. In addition, the works from Piaget and Vygosky state that “hands-on activities create external intrusion into current thinking and stimulate equilibration leading to conceptual change.” Although it is unclear if students will be learning fully from home or both home and school, preparing materials for students to experience hands-on science at home is important to ensure students are moving forward with mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards.
The research question that will guide my project is based on the issue of continuing engagement at home through remote or a combination of remote and brick and mortar. Will providing students with hands-on science experiences at home increase student mastery and an appreciation of the Next Generation Science Standards? To prove that the innovation was successful, students will show mastery through evaluation of the standards. Students will complete pre and post assessments through a variety of technology resources, including flipgrid and quizizz. The specific strategy that I will be addressing is focusing on the importance of learning through hands-on experiences. To ensure that students have this opportunity at home, I want to provide students with the necessary materials for them to be able to complete hands-on learning at home. In addition, I will be following the strategies of the SE Instructional Model to teach the Next Generation Science Standards. The SE model includes Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This grant will allow students to continue the phases of Engagement and Exploration even remotely from home. Providing students with science materials at home will allow them to develop a deeper engagement and exploration of the science standards.
My overall goal is for students to increase mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards by providing the materials they need to use at home to continue learning by engagement and exploration. The long term goal of this project is to create a love for science that will assist them in their future careers especially in science related fields.
Every student will be able to use these “Hands-On at Home” materials to fully engage and discuss their learning. The process will begin by creating “Science in a Box” packages filled with all the materials students need to be successful with 8 planned labs. The teacher, instructional assistant, and the family resource director will help to create these packages. These “Science in a Box” packages will be mailed or hand delivered with 8 labs that address the 3rd grade standards. These labs will consist of the materials needed, student guides, and lab sheets for students to use while completing the labs. These labs will focus on the topics of fossils, life cycles, force and motion, magnets and electromagnets, electricity, and weather and climate. For example, students will use rain gauges and thermometers to collect weather data to describe weather conditions in their area. In another lab, students will create a pendulum out of metal washers and string and will test how the length of the string of the pendulum affects the motion. In addition, students will make a model of a habitat by using a clear container with a variety of soils to determine how multiple combinations of environmental factors affect a habitat and seeds that are planted there. Students will observe, form a hypothesis, measure, collect and interpret data, and draw conclusions based on their experiences. I will inform students when they will need each lab and we will work together to complete the lab through a Google Meet. Students will virtually collaborate with other students while completing the labs. In addition, students will show mastery through creating a video lab report through flipgrid. The flipgrids will be assessed by a rubric that focuses on demonstrating understanding of the standard through the 3 dimensions of learning. This “Hands-On at Home” approach could not be achieved without the use of these materials made possible by this grant. In addition, these materials could be used as a learning tool for students to be able to teach and include their families in their learning experiences. The materials could be used for years to come to activate prior knowledge of science concepts learned in 3rd grade.
These outcomes will be measured by having students complete pre/post assessments and participation of each lab to determine growth. Students and parents will complete a survey to gather feedback pertaining to the effectiveness of having lab materials at home. In addition, documentation of student work will be provided through flipgrid lab reports and photographs. Determining if these outcomes are based on my innovation project will be evident by the fact that many students do not have materials at home to complete hands-on experiences that could be normally completed during the school day and that these materials assisted students to master the standards. Having these opportunities are crucial in the learning process, especially in the science classroom whether it be at school or home. Distributing these materials to students to use at home will ensure students will be able to continue to learn while at home. The timeline for this project will begin in September 2020 and will end in April 2021. The at home labs will be used during the units discussed above. The labs will be completed during remote learning days to allow students to continue engagement and exploration of the 3rd grade science standards.