Scientists record times and dates to keep track of events, for organization, and to spot any patterns or relationships in data. Start molding your students into young scientists by teaching them the basics of telling time and formatting dates.
Before starting the lesson, give students some background about the NatureMapping program. Explain that they'll be studying various animal species, and they'll be completing the NM data-collection form in order to help create a biodiversity database used by scientists and the general population. Also, hand out field journals in the beginning, which students will use to record their observations throughout the project.
Lesson Objectives and Materials
understand the difference between digital and analog clocks.
learn how to tell time in standard and military notation.
understand different date formats, including the NM standard of MM/DD/YYYY.
5. Distribute copies of the clock. The clock should include three concentric circles. In each circle, ask students to write the time in military or standard notation and to sketch and express activities they typically perform during that time of day.
6. Distribute copies of the NM data-collection form (if students don't already have it), and show students where to enter time on the form.
7. Use live specimens to help explain the concept of elapsed time. For example, ask students to track the time for a butterfly's chrysalis to develop or for a chicken's eggs to hatch. If live specimens aren't available, visit virtual-pet Web sites.
Is the lesson too advanced for your students? Here are some ways to customize the lesson for younger kids:
Grades K-2: Ask students to record time by adding clock hands to a figure of a clock face.
Grade 3: Ask students to record digital time on a clock they draw.
Recording a Date
The International Organization for Standardization says that the correct calendar date format is written as YYYY-MM-DD. However, date formats vary by organization and individual preferences. Here, you will teach students the many ways they can write a date, including the format NM uses.
Follow these steps:
1. Ask students to write today's date on the chalkboard in all the ways they can think of. Here's a nonexhaustive list to refer to when adding ideas to the students' list:
Thursday, August 29, 2008
August 29, 2008
8/29/08 6:00 p.m.
2. Explain the importance of consistency for writing dates, especially to scientists. Show and explain the NM format: MM/DD/YYYY.
3. Post a list of month names and numbers for students to reference or to copy in their field journals. (January is 1, February is 2, and so on.)
4. Ask students to practice writing dates and memorizing months in the correct format. Here are some ideas to try:
Dictate different dates, and have students write them down in the correct format. Use whiteboards to pinpoint common mistakes quickly.
Ask students to circle the correct date from a list.
Have students orate names of the month in the correct order.
Use dates that remain constant in your examples, such as Christmas and Independence Day.
Tie in dates from other subjects, such as history, as practice examples.
Show students how to select and format dates in a software program, such as Microsoft Excel.
Ask students to practice using a calendar daily, inputting dates and times for assignments and events.
Practical and Assessment
Test your students' ability to record times and dates. Read dates and times out loud, and ask students to format them appropriately -- in NM format and in military units respectively.
How did your students do? Here are some ways to assess students' abilities, reflective of grade level. Assess students by point scale or qualitatively.
Exceeds standard: Student was able to record the time and date accurately when recited ten out of ten times.
Meets standard: Student was able to record the time and date accurately when recited nine out of ten times.
Below standard: Student was able to record the time and date accurately when recited eight times or fewer out of ten times; student needs more practice.