In August I had a brilliant idea.
I would gather some families and do a “Science Day”, during which time all the kids would participate in fun science experiments/demonstrations and learn about science. You know… The kinds of things they never have time to do in public school any more!
You would think this would be no big deal for me! I was a Biology major in college and a high school science teacher (for one awful year). My husband was a Bio-Physics major. However, I’m out of practice and it actually was quite a bit more difficult to come up with ideas! In the end, however, I think that is was worthwhile for the kids and something I should attempt to do more often to help foster the wonder of science.
Reflecting on Science Day, I remembered how much of science is just vocabulary. It isn’t math. It isn’t even really concepts. It’s just WORDS. And words are what my students struggle with every day!
Hands-on science is a great way to teach vocabulary! Here are the words that we learned from our “experiments”:
1. Freezing Temperature: We learned about how salt alters the freezing temperature of water, so you can actually melt the ice and have it re-freeze around a string! Try it here.
2. Static Electricity: We had fun making our hair do crazy things after rubbing it with a balloon! Find out how here.
3. Evaporation: Highlight of the afternoon! Dry ice (or frozen Carbon Dioxide) evaporates at room (air) temperature. When you combine it with water and soap, it makes awesome bubbles and steam through evaporation! Try it here.
4. Surface Tension: While playing with the dry ice bubble solution, The Flash found out more about Surface Tension!
5. Gravity: Good ol’ gravity! The kids learned about gravity, wind resistance, etc. by making parachutes out of different materials and then dropping them from the deck. Try it here.
Since the fifth graders in my school take the state-wide science exam, any or all ways to teach science vocabulary is helping them with both their academics and their speech and language goals! Here is a very exhaustive list I found for 5th grade science vocabulary. I wish I had time to do more of these activities at school, because I know that they would be both fun and helpful!