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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

New Science Curriculum

New Science Curriculum

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This week I was told I would be teaching a new curriculum in science next year for fifth grade. The curriculum has four main subject areas: weather, force and motion, ecosystems, landforms. I was wondering if anyone had any great lesson ideas or websites that they would be willing to share?

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Jo Ann Burman's picture

Have them make a school weather station with a rain gauge (made out of a frozen juice can or some other can and a metric ruler), a wind sock, and a weather vane.

Jo Ann Burman's picture

Juice cans are wonderful, especially the ones whose lids pull off, not cut off. Have the students collect such cans from home. Get different sized lengths of dowels and different widths and lengths of rubber bands. If you punch a hole into each end of the juice can, you can thread the rubber bands through. Keep the rubber band from going all the way through with a small piece of dowel and put a larger dowel through the rubber band at the other end. Have a bunch of washers on hand if the friction of the dowel with the can lid prevents motion. You can then wind the rubber band like the old rubber band airplanes and have races. Let the students choose the length of dowel and the width/length of rubber band. Have races, using stopwatches, to determine which combination of dowel and rubber band makes the fastest "car".

Barbara Samuelsen's picture

We used to have a weather station outside the room at school. We had a rain gauge, thermometer and barometer. We had charts to categorize the clouds and would record the weather the same time each day. It was very informative.

Marsha Ratzel's picture
Marsha Ratzel
Middle school math and science teacher from Leawood, Kansas

Weather, ecosystems, landforms and force & motion are sort of disconnected ideas...but there are some connectors. In weather, the big ideas have to be energy transfer, convection currents and density. The best way I've learned to teach weather is to current events to build student interest. I've started using hurricane season at the start of the school year...you can use Twitter feeds to follow the hurricane watchers at NASA in real time. As hurricanes develop, you can have kids generate all sorts of questions they can research the answers to....you can also use the stuff at My NASA Data to gather sea surface water temperatures...and watch the hurricanes go through. After that season, you naturally will flow into the fall season and why weather happens the way it does...maybe follow photoperiods so they can track how temperature varies with the sun's path. Then winter and the spring brings tornado season. My big theme for weather is storms....espeically Monster Storms. Try using teh Project Jason curriculum called Monster Storm and their Energy curriculums....they full of totally cool video clips that tie in the latest technology with engaging scenarios.

If I was doing landforms, I use stream tables. have kids generate all sorts of questions how those form and what variations they are. Then they can re-create them and investigate each one. Maybe you'll have a local civil engineering company that you can interest in collaborating with your students. I think it would be fun to have them learn about land development....you know grading and siting a building on a piece of property. Or maybe you could find someone from the Corps of Engineers that could Skype with your students about how rivers impact the shape of the land. I've also been looking how to use ePals to connect with classes all over the world....they can describe what is near where they live and your kids can interview them to do first person research. Trade pics of landforms near where you live and where they live.

I'm not so good with ecosystems and other people ahve already given you good ideas about f & m.

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