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Friday, September 5, 2014

Becoming Scientists

The fourth graders have spent the week learning that scientists take great care to observe the world around them. The first day outside in the woods, the students ran around and saw very little. Afterward, they expressed their disappointment at not seeing chipmunks, squirrels, and even deer. We discussed the differences between beginner scientists and advanced. 

The second day, students were quiet and more grounded. They spent time really looking at nature around them and seeing the finer details that others might miss. This time bugs were crawling on them, and the kids were fully immersed in the surroundings. 

From there we spent time learning how to record our observations in our science notebooks. The fourth graders spent time writing notes and drawing detailed images to reference later. The kids were given an object from nature to practice observing. What a difference a day makes. 

Yesterday we tried to put it all together. The students were put in teams and went out to observe their first mini habitat, a rotting log. I had hoped that they would follow the observing qualities we had discussed while recording detailed notes on their recording sheet. Unfortunately, the kids had a difficult time focusing. The draw of being in the woods was more of a distraction than I had imagined. In the end, we needed to reflect on the experience and make adjustments for next time. 

Taking into consideration Thursday's problems, I decided to spend more time on the importance of looking and paying attention to the details along with recording them accurately. Students were asked to draw a simple face, the catch was that they only saw it for about 15 seconds. They then compared all of the pictures and discussed why they were all different and none even looked similar? How could that be when everyone was observing the same picture? The kids quickly came to the realization that only looking at it once meant they were making a lot of it up as they drew. They then got a photo of half of their face and were asked to draw the other side. This time looking as closely as possible to the details of their face to get an accurate observation. They had a lot of fun with this, and most were surprised how much they "saw" in their faces that they could then draw.  

We will be building on these skills over the next few weeks. So stay tuned!

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