Sunday, November 14, 2010

Earth Science Class

I started teaching Earth Science last year. I had to start from scratch with a textbook and the instruction from my department head to focus on inquiry (duh?). I started the year with a scale model project. My plan was to talk about models and imperfections and at the same time have them work on measurements and conversions; they also had to get good at solving problems when they couldn't get their chair to look like a chair. Some kids looked up real places on Google Earth and made models. It was also an excellent way to teach proportion. I used this in my Algebra class this year since I have the same kids for Math and Science.

After the Scale Model Project, we work on Rocks and Minerals. I have them do density determinations on three minerals (quartz, galena and pyrite) with 3 distinct densities and they calculate their precision (using standard deviation) and their percent error. Some students last year complained that there was too much math in science- I said "Yeah." This year no complaints, it may be because they all have me for math. We then do a major project identifying unknown rocks. I am needing to grade all these projects now and finally get the rocks sorted properly. I inherited a crazy amount of rocks and I have to get some order. The lab was a real mess, every drawer has random stuff in it, most drawers have rocks.

We just started plate tectonics and soon they will start their Earthquake/Volcano documentaries. I am not allowing video this year, since we had such technical difficulties and the Keynote/Powerpoints with embedded videos and sound were so much better.

The one thing I really like about my science class is how I do labs. I have the students create their own procedures, I actually practice being less helpful. If they ask me (while doing their lab) how to do something, I say "What does your procedure say?"

I'll write more about science later. I don't care if anyone reads this blog, I think it's good to write about what I do.

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