A Little Science Planning

I have finally gotten back into "school mode", not "blogging mode" or "tpt mode", but actually getting ready for my classroom mode.  Makes sense, since I went into the room for the first time this summer to get things moved around.  My husband came in and helped me move all of the furniture around (and NOT ONCE complained as I was sitting ordering him around while he picked up my bookshelves and moved desks in place.)

Anyway, I started to think about planning and how I was going to start off the year.  Math and language arts popped up into my mind but then.....science.  UGH!  Science is just so hard in 5th grade. You see, I teach at a Math/Science/Technology magnet so there is a bit of added pressure to be good at science...and quite frankly I am not.  So I have to start the year off on a good note, getting the kids to really understand the scientific process, variables, et al...

Immediately I thought of something I did at the end of last year, thanks to my friend Ari, The Science Penguin.  After a dismal showing at the Science Fair, I realized that my students just didn't understand the entire scientific process the way that I thought they should. They got the basics, but really setting up an experiment and knowing WHY it happened weren't quite cemented.  So I was stalking pinterest looking for something easy that would help them to understand a bit better (since it was the last week of school and all), and I came across this pin.  After a little investigating clicking on the pin, I found out that this was none other than Ari's fabulous idea and I had to do it.  She IS the Science Penguin after all!

She has this awesome pack (which you can get from her TpT store), with this great Skittles activity in it.  Basically, the kids set up an entire experiment, going through the scientific process, making hypotheses, crafting a procedure, conducting the experiment, and writing up a conclusion, using Skittles.  It was exactly what I needed.   So I got ahold of the pack and materials, and we were off and running in my room.

The kids LOVED this.  I mean, they were so into it.  We went through the whole process on the recording sheet (which INGENUOUSLY she has made without a back on it so that it can go in the science notebooks.)

The kids set up the experiment in their science groups, took the times themselves, created their own graphs, and then came to their own conclusions.  It really was fabulous.

We then talked about WHY it all happened.  Why did they think the Skittles dissolved faster in the hot water than in the cold water...and surprisingly some of them remembered our earlier experiments with uneven heating and molecules from Earth Science.   It all just came together.

Next, we listed our variables to see if this was a valid experiment. I used this sheet that I showed you at the beginning of last school year (in this post).  It really went over well.  I think that I am going to really have to be diligent about using this in this upcoming school year.  It seemed to really cement the issue of variables for the kids. Click here to download the variable sheet.

So the first week back to school, my plan is to do this experiment again.  I am going to load them up with all of this background knowledge on the scientific process, focusing on the WHY this year, so that when we do go into the Science Lab, they know what I want. (Oh, I did forget to mention that the pack Ari sent had more than just this experiment...it really lays out the scientific process fabulously! And, no, she didn't ask me to write any of this...I just am :)) And then, come Science Fair, we knock it out of the park.

How do you plan your science time so that the kids really understand what it is that they are doing?


  1. I'll have to send my science teaching buddy to her TPT store for this activity. I bet our students would love this activity.

    Oodles of Teaching Fun

    1. It was really fun for them! They were totally into it (and that is saying something for 5th graders on the last day of school ;) )

  2. Kids love Skittles don't they? I have done the skittle experiment where the letter separates from the candy and floats. The kids had a blast and of course I gave them a skittle to enjoy which to 3rd graders is like winning the lottery!

    I Heart Teaching Elementary

    1. Oh, I would love to see that experiment! Do you have a copy of it?

  3. I'm so glad your kiddos loved it! Thank you sooooo much for blogging about the activity. It's fun to see your activity in another teacher's classroom. :)

    The Science Penguin

  4. Oh, my DEAR Stephanie... This is exactly what I needed! Science is my weakest area, and at our school, it is the only grade without a FOSS kit. (Thus, "hands on" without anything to put your hands on.) This sounds like a wonderful way to generate interest (theirs and mine!) as well as a good forum from which the students can develop deeper thinking about the scientific process.
    THANKS for the recommendation. It was a gift just when I needed it most!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Glad I could help! It really did keep their interest (though it took a bit longer than the suggested time....like 20 mins longer to dissolve the Skittles....so keep that in mind :) )

    2. Hmm...when we did it, it went faster. I'll add that info to my product. Thanks!

  5. I teach the process using Orbeeze for my 4th graders. We take 3 different colors of them, stick them into empty water bottles, and add 3 different types of liquid. Then we watch and record information throughout the day on a basic process sheet. Great activities to get their brains thinking!

    1. That sounds like fun too! My daughter just got a whole bunch of Orbeeze for her birthday. May be another experiment to add into the mix!

  6. The New Generation Science Standards are rolling out for our state and have totally changed my view of teaching Science. The Practices are amazing. A step at a time, but I am so excited to use what I learned this summer and I think it will make a huge difference in our ability to hit it out of the park in our Science fair. Thanks for the variable freebie. Exactly what I have been needing! :)

  7. I spend A LOT of time at the beginning of the year really going over the whole process. We do several experiments just to focus on the process. Then, we do a "consumer science" fair type thing where they pick a product (like paper towels, baggies, diapers, gum, etc.) and they create an experiment to test their claims. It's so much fun, but it definitely takes a lot of time! Science is the only thing I teach, though, so it's much easier for me to spend more time on it. Ari's experiment sounds awesome -- might have to add it this year!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    The Science Life

  8. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS!!! Ari is so amazing! I didn't get to teach science last year because I teamed and was so bummed about it. I do agree though that it can be such a challenge. It's VERY open ended and requires a lot of higher order thinking skills. Thanks so much for sharing this fabulous idea! :)

    By the way- that's a good man! ;) Enjoy the last bit of summer!

    Young Teacher Love Blog

  9. I love Ari's stuff too - it makes me wish I still taught fifth grade!

    Mrs. Harris
    Mrs. Harris Teaches Science!

  10. Thank you for this great freebie! I know I will be able to use this during our unit on experiment design. :)

    The Teaching Thief


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