This past year our freshman students came from 56 different feeder schools. They arrived with a wide-range of science knowledge and experiences. Some students knew how to write detailed lab reports, some were experts at analyzing data, and, unfortunately, some had never had a science class before. During the first few weeks of schools I run a science bootcamp to make sure students are on the same level. I want students to engage in the process of science rather than just reading a textbook or completing worksheets.
When students walked into class on the first day they put on a lab coat, found their seat, met their lab group, and were introduced to their group’s new pet: a mouse. After watching a video of a mouse playing basketball, groups were asked what is the best way to train a mouse. Students researched training animals and came up with different ideas. Some thought the food mattered, others the amount of attention given mouse, and others were convinced that the physical environment mattered most.
Students were then challenged to test their ideas by building a maze and training their mouse to run it. Groups first created sketches of their maze design on graph paper and workshopped them to come up with the best design. They then constructed their mazes out of cardboard and began to run trials, timing how long it took their mouse to complete the maze. Students stored this information in Google Sheets and then created digital graphs of their data and marked the line of best fit. Each group then presented their data to the rest of the class using Google Slides, paying special attention to how they trained their mouse, what they learned from the experience, and what they would do differently next time.
Hashtags: #SEPs #GAfE #liveanimals #handson #inquiry #design #data #graphing #9thgrade #environmentalscience