Second through fifth grades have one hour of hands-on science a week with the hands-on science teacher in the new science lab. Sixth graders have one hour of hands-on science a week in the new science lab with their sixth grade classroom teacher.
Hands-on science classes consist of engaging, hands-on investigations that stimulate students’ curiosity and inquiry. Students have the opportunity to further explore what they are investigating in their classroom science content.
Students develop the scientific practices outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Construction explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 20)
Hands-on science classes take place in the new, state of the art, elementary science lab. In the summer of 2016, the lab was updated with new furniture and resources to support the engaging and hands-on investigations that take place there.
Here are a few of the new additions to the elementary science lab.
- Round lab tables and student stools
- 25 compound monocular microscopes
- 12 binocular stereo microscopes
- 5 different digital microscopes
- Aquaponics system
- Space and solar system 3D models/simulators
- Human torso model with removable organs
- 3D printer
- Wireless sensors (temperature, pH, current, voltage)
Examples of Hands-on Science Lessons
Dig it! Why do we have to be careful when digging up fossils? In this lab, students excavate dinosaur bones from blocks of rock. Then students carefully clean the bones and put them back together to recreate the animal. We talk about what scientists can learn by studying dinosaur remains. Students take home their dinosaur skeleton.
Frog Characteristics: We use an online simulator where students can change four characteristics of the frogs: color, color of feet (with or w/out suction), length of limbs, and the length and stickiness of the tongue. They make a hypothesis about which characteristics will allow the frogs to live the longest. Then we run multiple tests with the simulator as students record the results.
Solar Energy: An engineering teacher at a local high school brings solar car kits for our students to use. We talk about hydrogen fuel cells, and then students work in pairs to put a car together. After the cars were are put together and the fuel cells are charged, students are able to see their cars move. Then students hook up battery packs to the cars to observe differences in how the car moves with the hydrogen fuel cells versus the batteries.
Potential vs. Kinetic Energy: Students conducted a series of tests with rubber bands to investigate how the amount a rubber band is stretched (potential energy) affects the distance a rubber band will travel (kinetic energy).
Squishy Circuits: Students are given two types of dough and test each type to find out which one is conductive and which one is insulating. After they figure that out, they test the distance and mass of the dough in relation to a functioning circuit (how does the distance and mass affect the circuit), and number of LEDs they can light up.
Electromagnetic Motors: How can you use magnets to produce motion? Students use magnets, paper clips, wires, and batteries to create different types of electromagnetic motors. They try to get their motors to spin. Some students even attach a paper fan to the spinning wire to create a functioning fan!
Human Cheek Cells: Students investigate animal cells and create a wet mount slide of their cheek cells. Then they utilize the microscope to try to view the cheek cells and identify any visible parts of the cell. Students draw, color, and label what they see.
Chicken Heart Dissection: In this lab, students determine in what ways a chicken heart is similar to and different from a mammalian (human) heart. Students examine and sketch the outside of the chicken heart. Then each student dissects a chicken heart, while trying to identify the arteries, blood vessels, and chambers.