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First Couple Days of Physical Science
I'm just looking for some ideas of other teachers out there. Just wondering what some things we do on the first day-week of your physical science class that gets the students interested and engaged. Last year was my first year teaching the class and I just tried to follow what the teacher next door was, which I found to be lame ice breakers and such. Just lookin for some helpful pointers.
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Hi Chris, Can you give us some more information? What grade do you teach and what state are you in?
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I teach 9th Grade Physical Science in AZ
Thanks for the quick reply. I was able to find three journal articles in our NSTA Learning Center that may provide you with some ideas:
a) Managing Each Minute
b) Frontloading Classroom Management
c) An Inquiry Safari
There were a couple of interesting ones for middles school teachers, too. But these seemed to be articles geared toward high school. I hope this helps.
Attached is an investigation started that I have used the first day of school with 8th graders. It can easily get students started with the material of Physical Science.
Tried and True: Looking for Questions (Journal Article)
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Thanks for the resources. I'll look over them. 9th graders are a lot like middle schoolers so maybe if you want to show those ones as well...i'll take a look. Thanks again!
I found that 'doing' something the first day or days is great. I like to have simple investiagtions that raise questions and many are discrepant events. Let me get some NSTA resources for you.
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So I looked at my rosters on our computer system today and my classes currently are 46, 45, 45, 41, 40 and 34 next year. I'm scared! They weren't up last week so i'm hoping things will be done...but what can you do in a class that size with all the safety issues involved?
here are some discrepant event resources - the second is free
Even More Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Events
By: Thomas O'Brien
By: Kristy VanDorn, Mwarumba Mavita, Luis Montes, Bruce J. Ackerson, and Mark Rockley
Grade Level: Middle School
You might also try opening a discussion with one or two discrepant events if your classes are so large and you do not want to turn them toward working by themselves yet.
Don't be scared - let your students know that you are there to work with them and to lead them but that they also have a responsibility. Some teachers talk about this the first day and draw up list of responsibilities and expectations. I always avoided handing out a syllabus or schedule and talking about the book, finding it best to do something active with the students. I often chose a few demos that mirrored content that we would cover later in the year and engaged them in "what do you think happened? Why do you think this? Was there something you observed that supported your ideas?" etc. etc.
Kudos to you for looking for activities to engage and excite your physical science students! Physical science can be a lot of fun to teach and can really get your students engaged and excited about science. Here are an activity that I have used in physical science classes:
Strongman contest (Pascal's Principle): Students squeeze a raw egg as hard as they can applying EVEN pressure(make sure the egg is in a zip lock bag). According to Pascal's principle, equal pressure is applied to the fluid (egg yolk and white) and the container (shell). If even pressure is applied, students cannot break the egg. After they try to break the egg, crack it open to show that it is, in fact, a raw egg.
How is your course set-up? Is it a half year chemistry and a half year of physics (and which part of physical science does your course begin with?). Let me know what you are teaching at the beginning of the year and I will forward you some activities that match what you will be teaching.
Also, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State has several strategies for working with large classes.
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The course is set up as 1st semester Chemistry and 2nd semester physics. I remember demonstrating the egg thing last year, but not having the kids do it because it would probably end up messy.
Wow, Chris! Those are huge class sizes. You are right to be concerned about safety with so many students possibly in classrooms designed for far fewer bodies! Hopefully you will hear lots of ideas from teachers who have taught large classes - for how you can conduct true inquiry investigations without putting any student in an unsafe situation.
I was just thinking of a post I made at another discussion thread about Discrepant Events. I will link it here for you and here was my actual post: Hi Everyone!
One of the more comprehensive resources that I have found "free" on the internet is an older book written by Dr. Tik L. Liem. It is called Invitations to Science Inquiry. It contains hundreds of discrepant events. The Table of Contents is divided into categories like air, weather, matter, energy, etc. I would attach the pdf here, but it is 486 pages long. You can download it off the internet at Science inquirer - free stuff. Scroll down to free books, newsletters and magazines. It is a nice resource to have handy.
I am wondering if anyone has a "favorite" physical science misconception that they feel is a must to cover and how they address it in their classroom.
When you find my post, you can click on the link to download this free book - DEs are one way to engage your students through thought-provoking demonstrations.
Here are a couple more resources to help with classroom management: Starting Your Year Off Right and The Science Laboratory Safety Manual – Second Edition.
What topics do you cover in the chemistry portion of the class?
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I came across this website while looking some stuff up, pretty cool way of showing the differences between million, billion and more.
Chris, are you familiar with the Powers of Ten video and website? It is awesome! When you get to the website, click on "film" to see the video. It is also on YouTube.
That is an amazing website. I really like how it refers to objects that students would already know. I find that my students have problems understanding very large numbers and also very small numbers. The Power of Ten video to which Carolyn refers is a great resource!
I have a PPT that gives the students a little info at a time and encourages them to infer from the info. As they get more info, they add to or make changes to their inferences. I'll have to dig it up. I also use a discrepant event - put a dollar bill (20's are more awesome) into a mixture of alcohol and water, and ask if it will burn. They kids are sure it will, but of course, the alcohol burns off, but the bill doesn't - it's wet, and all the water would have to evaporate first.
I might also challenge them to cut a 3 x 5 card such that it makes an "opening" they can step through. (It requires many alternating cuts) They aren't allowed to use glue or tape. The card has to still be in one piece)I understand it is in the Tiem (sp?) document that was mentioned earlier.
On one of the listserves, they mentioned using the fortune fish that you can get at Oriental trading co. They curl in your hand because of the moisture. They need to come up with a testable theory as to why they curl.
For Physics, I give the students a whirligig (versions are on the NASA website)they test one, then cut out variations and try to find a modification that causes the whirligig to fall more slowly. If you want the attachments, let me know.
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I just made this icebreaker bingo game that I figured I would share. Will probably have my kids do it the 2nd day of class. I have 35 boxes on there because right now i'm looking at 42-45 kids per class but you could take some out. Its also somewhat specific to AZ and my district but you can easily change it if your interested.
Ice_Breaker_Bingo.docx (0.01 Mb)
I'd be interested in seeing that powerpoint that you mentioned. Thanks for all of the good ideas.
I think a good way to start the year is with great demos, show the students a demo the exemplifies something from each quarter or unit, the demos are what kids the most excited. If you could include fire, chemical reactions, loud sounds, and the like it will be best! The kids will see you as a cool scientist for the rest of the year rather than just a teacher
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I started out my school year for my physical science courses one of two ways. If I was teaching physics first, I would have a double pendulum hanging in the front of the room from the first day and had students write a journal entry where they described the apparatus and how I was going to do the demonstration (or discrepant event as Carolyn mentioned) and make a prediction of what they would see happen. They then had to describe and diagram what they saw and after a short class discussion write claims and evidence for why they think it occurred. I also did any additional modifications they asked for as long as they documented the change and what occurred. I will attach more details. Later in the week, we did a lab on oscillation of single pendulums where they got a 20 cm length of string and a gummy lifesaver and they had to come up with a test to find out what affected the number of times it would swing in a minute and we worked together again on how to design and write up a lab.
If we did chemistry, I did what was mentioned on one day with flash/bang sorts of demos and then we did a lab using the spot plates called "white powders" simply to teach them how to set up and clean up labs, do reports, and make accurate observations. I will attach that one as well.
Both sets of lessons were designed to get them interested and to start teaching them classroom safety and procedures during labs as well as how I expected them to write up lab reports. And both were inexpensive as I had a limited budget at the start of the year.
Personal_Resource_Single_and_Double_Pendulums.docx (0.04 Mb)
Personal_Resource_Mystery_Powders.docx (0.02 Mb)
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Hi Chris and Tina,
Thanks for your interest in bringing this thread to the front of the line again. As the LC matures, archived/prior threads become embedded deeper into past pages but still retain good ideas and resources. We'll have to search for some of the threads on first day activities that correlate with this one. Meanwhile. let me share a collection of LC resources that speak to first day activities called Enliven First Days with Science Collection.
May it have some use and enlived activities for your students.
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