Ellen Herman JOHN Q THOMAS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, FLAGSTAFF, AZ
4th Grade Science : Unit #1 - Opening Science : Lesson #7

Bubblegum Blast

Objective: SWBAT practice and implement the steps of the scientific process by working through each step and by collaborating while collecting data.
Standards: RI.4.3 W.4.7 SP3 SP4
Subject(s): Science
60 minutes
1 Scientific Process Review - 2 minutes

To begin this lesson, I would like students to help me create an Anchor Chart that highlights the steps in the scientific process. I start by creating a T chart on a large piece of paper. On one side I will write the step, and on the other will be a note to remind what happens at this step. I do ask that we put the steps into the correct order so we can use it to reference in today's experiment. I then begin calling on students to help me fill in the chart. 

We go over the chart once it is completed and I explain that today we are going to practice all the steps. The class does question whether that includes an experiment I answer, "of course!" Just the idea of an experiment is thrilling to the class. I then use my popsicle sticks to create teams of students. I have decided that for their first one, using all the steps, they will be in pairs. I will have at least two teams of three. 

2 Preparing and Pondering - 10 minutes

I ask the pairs to move together in the room so that they can listen to the directions together. I have them collect the papers they will need as they move to their spots. Once they are settled next to each other, I begin preparing them for the lesson. I explain that we are going to practice all the steps in the scientific method and we are going to do it in the area of consumer science.

For the first few sections we will do this in our teams, but also as a whole class. We start with the development of a good question. My class has no idea what the lesson is yet, so I start by explaining to the them that bubblegum is a type of chewing gum that has a more elastic property and therefore is meant for blowing bubbles. This gets the class excited.

I then ask students to think of a good consumer question about bubblegum and the different types that you can buy. I do not have to prompt them very much before I get the question I was looking for, "which bubblegum brand blows the largest bubbles?" 

For the second step, I am going to model how to use the iPad for research, instead of leaving the groups to research on their own. I plug my iPad into the document camera and model how I would look for what gum is made of and what makes bubblegum different than regular gum. Each team will take notes on their papers on what I research and the information that they think will be helpful as we try to answer our question. 

BIG Vocabulary
Grappling with Complexity

Sometimes as we teach a lesson we realize that the vocabulary might be a bit difficult or a word might need to be explained. I do this often as I teach and realize that I had better slow down and teach the vocabulary that I am using. 

In the case of this lesson, I realized that I had used two lofty vocabulary words and that I needed to clarify their meanings with the class. The words in this lesson were property and consumer. They are vocabulary words that are connected to this lesson specifically. The word consumer is not planned for any future lessons and so teaching it with other science vocabulary is not appropriate.

When I teach words like property and consumer, I go over the word explain and I tell the class why I chose this word. I further explain how it fits better into what I am about to do. During the course of the lesson, I encourage students to try and use these two words while they work. The more they practice them in context, the more likely they are to learn and really use them later. 

3 Bubble Blasting - 15 minutes

With our research complete, we are ready to form a hypothesis. I ask the groups to each form their own, but I encourage/ want them to use the words, "If I _________, then ____________ ." This helps them form a good prediction before we begin the actual experiment. 

We have talked about preparation and following direction being a vital part of an experiment being done well. To prepare ourselves, I ask one person from each team to come and get the materials needed. I hand out the list of materials that each team will need: a ruler, the bubblegum, and a data sheet for collecting their measurements.  

When they return to their groups, I go over the experiment directions. I have only given each group two kinds of bubblegum. Each person will get to be the bubble blower and the data collector. Each group will need to blow four bubbles with their brand of gum and measure it each time. A caliper would work great for this, but I do not have any so we just do our best estimation with a ruler. I model this by blowing a bubble and then model how I might measure and estimate the size of my bubble. The groups get to blowing and to collecting their data. I walk around the room and monitor the experiment process. 

4 Analyzing Data and Conclusion - 10 minutes

With all the data being collected we are ready to analyze it. I allow students to continue chewing their gum at this time. I then ask them look for patterns and make decisions on what happened with the experiment. I model and prompt them through this step using a the same data sheet. I write down all the observations and information I can determine from the experiment. I write my notes on the back of my data collection sheet. 

To model the conclusion, I begin my writing whether or not I can confirm my hypothesis. I model how this statement becomes the first one that I write for my concluding paragraph. I remind the class that I am putting all of the notes and what I learned together. 

I then give each group time to complete this step and write their conclusion paragraph. I ask them to write notes and observations on the back of their data sheet. I then pick the most relevant to add to my scientific process paper. Their conclusion will need to be written on the scientific process paper.