"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A lesson on sunlight and UV beads

At Eglin Elementary today, Ms. Scarbrough presented a Picture Perfect trade book lesson called "Sunshine on My Shoulders". She did an outstanding job, so I wanted to share it with you! Here is a run down of some of the things that made it such a great lesson.

Of course, Ms. Scarbrough came in on Monday to look over the lesson and take the plan back with her to study. My partner in crime, aka the other science coach that I am blessed to work with, prepared all the materials for her and ran off the recording sheet. I can't say enough about how important just 10 minutes of coming in ahead of time and making sure you know with certainty what the goals and procedures of the lab/lesson are.

The lesson and materials are stored in plastic tubs in the Science Station.

She began the lesson with a review of discussions that had taken place over the last few days in their class about weather and the sun heating the earth. Then she told them they would be participating in an experiment in which they were going to make a bracelet with beads to observe in the classroom and later outside. She even made sure the boys would not mind wearing a bracelet. One little boy said, "You can give it to your mother." After the experiment, I can assure you no kid wanted to give it away, but most likely got in the car that afternoon telling their parent how much fun they had in the "Science Station" that day.

Each child was given a pipe cleaner and five beads.

After making their bracelet with a pipe cleaner and 5 UV beads, they were given a recording sheet to record what their beads looked like at that point. Finally, a reason to use that white crayon.

Then they walked outside to see what happened in the sunlight. A chorus of kids were noting the cool color change. She had prepped them so well for behavior too. Love those classroom management skills I get to see everyday. Little things go a long way.

After reminding them to keep up with the colors they saw, they came back in to record what they saw after the beads were in the sunlight.

She then asked them to discuss with their table groups WHY they thought the beads had changed colors. They brainstormed explanations for why they changed colors in the sunlight. They did so well!

After they had a chance to discuss this at the tables, she then recorded their explanations in a chart on the board. Each group came up with an idea. It was interesting that all groups had something different. Love it when that happens. Then, they tried to think of a way to test each of their explanations. I wish I had photographed the board, but it got erased before I could get up there.

Some of their thoughts that I remembered were:

  • Maybe the heat caused it. They had been talking in class about how the heat warms the earth.
  • Maybe the light did it. 
To test the heat, they blew their hot air on it from their breaths. To test just light, they used a flashlight, and found that it didn't work. That was cool for them to see. They were able to see that only sunlight worked.

This is why I love these lessons so much. She didn't have to dream up all of this on her own. The chart was an idea listed in the teacher's guide, but the teacher did an outstanding job with this discussion!!!

After discussing that the sun has a special light called UV light, they were able to conclude that only sunlight worked to change the beads' colors.

Mrs. Scarbrough then put some sunscreen on her beads and took them out to see that sunscreen helped keep the beads from getting as brightly colored as without, but they still changed some. She pointed out that they needed to listen to their parents about sunscreen. She had a reading content sheet with a bit more information about this.

She finished up back in her classroom with a book titled Sunshine on My Shoulders which the song lyrics to John Denver's classic 70's song:) published in a book with illustrations. Of course, Mrs. Scarbrough is too young to know that. She had no idea!!!

The lesson centered around the content from Earth and Space Science: Understand that the Sun provides light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the Earth.

I loved how she turned that into a simple but powerful way to show how to observe, record, test, and explain the science behind it.

Two more things.....
1. the key to success is the little things like the few minutes looking over the lesson to see how things should go.
2. Ms. Scarbrough didn't know this, but one our district's peer evaluators was in the little office off of the Science Station and came out afterwards noting that it was indeed a very good lesson. She hoped more teachers would let her observe a lesson like this, because she would be able to see so many points on the rubric she uses!!!

And....you didn't think I could let you go without the original song by John Denver adapted to the children's book. Takes me back a few years.

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