Teachers and families across the country are facing a new reality of providing opportunities for students to do science through distance and home learning. The Daily Do is one of the ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families with this endeavor. Each weekday, NSTA will share a sensemaking task teachers and families can use to engage their students in authentic, relevant science learning. We encourage families to make time for family science learning (science is a social process!) and are dedicated to helping students and their families find balance between learning science and the day-to-day responsibilities they have to stay healthy and safe.
Interested in learning about other ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families? Visit the NSTA homepage.
Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
Bobby and Carmen have a problem to solve! They need to design something everyone at Engineering Camp can play with using only the materials they can find around the room. Will Bobby and Carmen succeed in using science and engineering to design a solution to their before lunch?
In today's task, How do we describe matter?, students and their families engage in the engineering design process alongside characters in the NSTA eBook Properties Matter. The engineering design process is a series of steps engineers follow to solve a problem. You'll notice from the image in the upper-right hand corner (click on image to enlarge) that the engineering design process is a cycle - engineers repeat the steps as many times as necessary to create a solution to a problem. (In the eBook, this cycle is presented in list form to fit the space.)
Engineers need science ideas to inform the choices they make as they imagine possible solutions individually and then plan a solution collaboratively with other engineers. Students-as-engineers in today's task first engage in science and engineering practices to make sense of the science ideas matter can be described by its observable properties and different properties are suited to different purposes.
Before you invite your students to read aloud or read along with you, take a few minutes to become familiar with the eBook and suggested supporting resource(s).
Properties Matter offers many opportunities for students and their families to interact with Bobby and Carmen in the story. Below are additional tasks which provide opportunities for students and their families to engage in the science and engineering practices to make sense of science and engineering ideas.
Page 10. Gather materials that Bobby and Carmen are observing (or materials that are similar). You may also want to have a ruler (and kitchen scale if one is available) ready. Students can record their observations in the What are all the ways we describe matter? table or use it as a guide when recording observations on blank paper.
Ask your students to choose of the materials and then say, "What are all the ways we can describe this material?" Allow students to look, feel, listen, and smell the material and begin describing it on their own.
When students run out of ways to describe the material, you might prompt them to consider the following properties:
When students have finished describing the material, ask, "How could we add more detail to your descriptions? For example, how big is big?" (measure the material). Other properties students might quantify are weight and stretchiness.
Next, ask students how they could change the shape of the material (cut, bend, twist, fold, etc.) This may help students think about the many different ways they might use the material in a design.
Finally, ask students how they might use the material in the design of a track (hold things together, make the track stronger/stiffer, etc.)
Complete this task for other materials your students are considering to use to build a track.
NSTA has created a How do we describe matter? collection of resources to support teachers and families using this task. If you're an NSTA member, you can add this collection to your library by clicking ADD TO MY LIBRARY located near the top of the page (at right in the blue box).
The NSTA Daily Do is an open educational resource (OER) and can be used by educators and families providing students distance and home science learning. Access the entire collection of NSTA Daily Dos.