Archive for the ‘Science Projects’ Category

Photo Wall

One of the things I want to incorporate into my classroom is a photo wall of science. It will include pictures from myself, my students, and any other contributor of pictures of what science means to us. I have had quite a few opportunities to take some pictures for it over the last few weeks between driving across country and settling in Las Vegas, so I wanted to share some with you:

A GM Factory in the MidWest

Mesas in southern Utah

GPS technology brought us safely 2700 miles away from home and found us food and cheap gas!

Spring gardens at the Bellagio

With the generators at the Hoover Dam - my happy place!

The Michael O'Callahan-Pat Tillman Bridge (to be finished November 2010)

I think using a photo wall will be a great way to initiate conversations about the Nature of Science and perhaps some debates over what science is!


The Long Awaited Magnetism Unit…

I’ve been working on this magnetism unit off and on for an entire semester – I’m so glad it’s finally finished!!

Digestive System Monologues

We finished up the Digestive System by having students write monologues as if they were a part of the digestive tract (accessory organs such as the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, etc. included). Here’s the finished product:

Students presented their monologues in groups of two or three (there are two classes worth on monologues posted) and wrote them on colored paper for the bulletin board. This would be a great activity for any age group. With homeschoolers, you could even have each child write a monologue for each part – a great way to reinforce the content!

NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race

I saw this photo gallery about NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race the other day and just had to share!

Students and other participants flock to Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to race their Moonbuggies: vehicles they have designed to withstand the elements on the moon. Teams race their buggies around the course and compete for speed and design.

This would be a fantastic project for a high school or university engineering or physics course! Check out the Great Moonbuggy Race website for more information.


The following is from a lecture on assessments by Amanda Gunning of Teachers College, Columbia University.

In order to create a great assessment, choose your Bloom’s Taxonomy words that you are interested in assessing and create your assessment appropriately.

Assessment Needs To Be:

  • Applied to all students in a fair way
  • Clear; make your expectations transparent
  • Public
  • Easy to apply – something you can reasonably apply, assess, and return as soon as possible
  • Straightforward
  • Minimal subjectivity (unless desired)
  • Understood BEFORE the start of the task

NOTE: When handing back test grades, it is always helpful to give a hi, low, and/or average test score across the class as well as the other sections of that class.

Informal Assessments:

  • Response Cards or Clickers: ask questions and have students respond by holding up the appropriate card. Some examples would be colors (green = I understand, red = I am confused) or numbers/letters for multiple choice questions
  • Calling Out All At Once – gets kids all involved without being intimidating
  • Raising Hands
  • Visiting Groups
  • Quick Group Reports
  • Present Answers on the Board
  • Mini white/chalk boards – you can buy shower stall walls at Home Depot and cut it to size for cheap white boards or white paper in page protectors with dry erase markers
  • Discussion

Formal Assessments:

  • Work to hand in
  • Tests (individual, partners, or groups)
  • Projects
  • Portfolios
  • Presentations
  • Reflections
  • Lab Report

Things to Consider:

  • Appropriate for the material addressed/classroom experience.
  • It will take the kids 2 to 3 times as long to complete an assessment as it would take you
  • Ability of students to be successful.
  • Assessment Time v. Instructional Time – every time you have a test or other assessment, you are sacrificing instructional time.
  • Useful for student practice – is a multiple choice test always the best way to assess? What do students need to know upon leaving your class? It might be most important for students to develop presentation skills, etc. and not develop test taking skills.

NOTE: If you are using the same assessment every year, be sure to check it over before teaching the material so you don’t test the kids on something you never taught!


  • Fosters success
  • Helps the teacher be objective
  • Puts students in control – grading is transparent
  • Need to be explained
  • Need to be used – if you make a rubric, USE IT!
  • Need to be practiced so students understand and make the most of the rubric

Uses for Rubrics:

  • Everyday behavior – e.g. rubric for free body diagrams in Physics
  • Lab – experiment and/or report
  • Homework
  • Etc.

Types of Rubrics:

  • Holistic – Quick, looks at a single dimension of a student’s skill or ability
  • Analytical – The most common type of rubric

Trophic Levels Lesson

Here’s a lesson based on the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum. It is basically a summary of the unit with a really fantastic bead model of the 10% Rule!

And just to give you an idea of what 1111 beads look like:

Engineering Design: Kosciuszko Bridge

There was an article in one of the New York Times’ blogs recently on the plans to rebuild the Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City. There’s also a video that shows a virtual tour and test drive of the bridge and an opportunity to vote and comment on the final bridge design to be started in 2014.

What a great opportunity for an engineering design project. You could analyze the different design proposals and discuss the benefits of each. It’s also a great chance to talk about the aesthetics involved in design and debate their importance. Finally, kids could team up to build scale models of their favorite proposed design!