Monday, July 25, 2011

What Is Earth Science?

As the beginning of the new school year draws near, it's time to ponder those first few days of earth science class again. During the first week of class I focus on having students thinking about what science is and planning how we will engage in the process of science during the school year.

Image credit: Morgue File
The first day's research question is simple: What is Earth Science? The task for this research question involves creating a What Is Earth Science? collage according to the following guidelines:

  • One collage per small group of 3 or 4 students
  • Each person contributes at least 5 images to the collage (cut from old magazines, like National Geographic)
  • All images must have a connecting theme, related to Earth science (pictures of the atmosphere, for example)
  • Each collage needs a descriptive title and a well-written caption explaining the collage
  • Thorough clean-up and recycling before we leave class

This task accomplishes a number of important goals in a subtle, low-intensity fashion:

  • students get familiar with collaborating in small groups, having discussions and asking each other questions
  • students and I can socialize and get to know each other while collages are being assembled
  • students learn some expectations about descriptive writing and peer editing
  • students learn expectations about cleaning up the lab space
  • I gain information about student understanding of earth science and uncover quite a few interesting misconceptions (many students confuse life sciences and social sciences with earth science, for example)

Each group has an opportunity to share their collage with the class and explain their theme. I save the collages and bring them out at the end of the school year.

I enjoy this activity because it allows students to engage in the process of science immediately, but in a rather informal, low stress manner. Putting together the collages sets us up for a deeper discussion of the process of science, which I will address in my next post: Understanding Science.

No comments:

Post a Comment