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Observations from 9/23/09

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Observations from 9/23/09

Emily Lovejoy


Today I was again observing Teacher A's 5th and 6th grade class.  Their school is currently focusing on the theme of community.  So, while some students worked on other things, Brie and I led some of the students through Bubbleology, a lesson presented to us in the Inquiry Science institute this summer by Joyce Theriot.


Students worked in teams of two; each team consisted of students from the same grade level.  The bubbleology was an inquiry lesson for the students.  The students were instruced to blow a bubble on the table and measure its diameter when it popped and left a mark on the table.  In the future, the students will experiment with the amount of soap used, and will work to create the biggest bubble and the longest lasting bubble.  Teacher A also used this lesson to help students understand volume.  The 6th graders were given a challenge in which they were to calculate the total volume of air that their lungs can hold.  They did this by blowing three big breaths into the straw, waiting for the bubble to pop, and then measuring the diameter and calculating the average volume of each breath of air they blew into the bubble by dividing the total volume of the bubble by 3.


Additionally in this lesson, students talked about what it is like to do science with others.  What is the best way to share information with other scientists?  Students responded with the ideas of computers, emails, pictures, observations, questions, and ideas.  In this lesson, the students had a job to do: to collect measurements, whereas in the Oobleck lesson, there was free observation.  In this lesson, students had to apply formulas that they have previously learned and additionally report data in a format provided by the teacher. 


When working with the groups, I noticed competition between the two students.  Each child tried to "out-do" their partner by blowing a bigger bubble.  Many of the students initially blew too hard into the straw and the bubble popped easily.  So, they used trial and error skills to perfect their method of creating the biggest bubble.  Initially, students reported their measurements in whole numbers, but after prompted by Teacher A, they discovered that it would be more accurate to report their measurements to the nearest tenth.  Many of the students had some trouble getting the bubbles to grow, but with their trial and error skills they moved the straw around the different placements, blew harder or softer into the straw, and added more soap to the surface of the table. 


This experiment was particularly interesting to me because it was the first time that I have facilitated an experiment with students.  I initially found myself giving the students tips, but then realized that the point of the lesson was to get them to work together in a group and discover the best methods with their partner, without my help.  At first it was hard to let go, but once I caught myself "giving them the answers" I was able to step back and observe their inquiry.  I found this lesson to be a good starting point for future lessons because it gave the students a good foundation on how to collect and analyze data.