Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

Junk Drawer Science

Junk Drawer Science is a new science curriculum company started by teachers with great resources for teachers.

Welcome to Junk Drawer Science: a result of years of frustration with the out-of-touch, and often-out-of date resources that have been available to us as teachers. We believe that it is time for a revolution in science education. The textbook should be relegated to its proper place. It should be a resource and no longer the focal point of our science classes!

Our mission is to provide engaging materials that stimulate learning in your students. We believe that science should not be expensive, and that the simplest lessons are often the most profound.

At the moment, they have three products available for purchase: a book full of great activities for middle and high school life science classes, a guide to using interactive notebooks in science class, and the game they created called “The Game of Evolution”.

I happen to teach with the Junk Drawer Science owners and can guarantee that their products are worth every penny. They have worked hard to develop curriculum and lesson tools that are effective in the classroom as well as easy to implement on a low (to non-existent) budget.

I guess that makes this a shameless plug: all in the name of providing the world with great teaching resources!

Unfortunately, they will not be at the NSTA conference in San Francisco, so for now, you will have to check them out online.

Student Teaching Week 3

Wow, the last few weeks have gone by so quickly that I can’t keep up!

Week 3

MONDAY – Started out with a Professional Development Day that was a great way to get to know the school culture and faculty better. We had the opportunity to experience learning through different senses (my two sessions were movement- and touch-based learning).

TUESDAY – Rode the bus with a lady who was convinced there was no air on the bus. The new semester also started on this day and my cooperating teacher communicated his expectations for the students and told them what to expect. Each of his classes last for the whole year, but I thought it was a nice way to start the semester.

Physics started learning circular motion and there were some neat ways of demonstrating centripetal force:

  • Each table is given a manilla folder and a marble. They are told to curve the folder so they can roll the marble along the table into the folder’s curve and watch the marble exit the curve in a straight line.
  • Attach a rubber washer to a string and swing it above your head in a horizontal circle so that when you let go, it shows that the washer will fly off in a tangential motion.
  • Using a large cylindrical beaker, put a rubber ball in the opening and spin around with the open end towards you. The ball will remain in the beaker. Switch the organization so that when you spin, the ball has the opportunity to fly out.
  • Spin a cup with water in a vertical or horizontal circle.

The 10th grade biology class learned about blood types. I couldn’t believe it when one girl came in wearing skinny legged acid wash jeans – it’s scary how trends from my childhood are popular again!

WEDNESDAY – Students in physics created accelerometers in class. They took a flask beaker and filled it with water. Then they added a small popcorn packing foam piece tied on a string and closed it up. When they turned it upside down, the foam piece floated in the middle of the beaker near the top. Since the water is more dense than the foam, the water moves in the direction of the velocity and the foam moves in the direction of the acceleration. When a student spins in the circle, the foam piece points towards the inside of the circle – demonstrating centripetal acceleration.

10th graders learned about allele frequency and did a fun activity where they picked dominant and recessive alleles out of a cup to see which traits their “population” would have.

THURSDAY – Physics reviews circular motion and 10th grade introduces evolution.

FRIDAY – 10th grade discusses overproduction and evolution and continue the activity from Wednesday by eliminating the homozygous recessive parts of the population to demonstrate how evolution occurs.

I also got to begin grading homework assignments and loved it! Here is one students response to the question, “What is the difference between rotation and revolution?”:

Rotation: an object spinning around its own axis
Revolution: an object circling around another object’s axis
Revolutions: a group of people attempting to overthrow the government

Haha, I love high schoolers :)

Evolution Activity

So I observed David McKinney, an 8th Grade Science teacher at Isaac Newton Middle School, today. It was really exciting to see all his energy — even if he admitted part of his energy high was due to having observers in the room! He did the following activity with his class and it was so fun to watch, never mind that the kids could see evolution (a change in frequency of a species) in action.

Based on Sir Charles Darwin’s research in the Galapagos Islands, the kids were challenged to see which finch beaks (modeled with tweezers, clothespins, toothpicks, and spoons) were most effective in eating which foods (rice, sunflower seeds, marshmallows, and marbles). At first, the kids had a plate representing an island since Darwin found there were entirely different species of finches on the islands in comparison to the mainland. Each student made a prediction as to which “beak” would be the most effective. Then they emptied a bag of food onto the plates (each bag had an assortment of the “foods” listed above). They were given 10 seconds with each “beak” to see how many pieces of food they could collect in a cup: NO SCOOPING WITH THE CUP ALLOWED! Results were recorded in a chart and organized by the type of food.

The second half of the activity was based on the first. Half of the groups were given a bag of rice and the other half a bag of marbles since their respective islands had a drought of the other food. Kids predicted which beak would be most effective in this case. Each beak had 10 seconds to prove itself and the data was recorded.

McKinney ran out of time at the end of class, but they had a short discussion about why certain beaks were advantageous given the indigenous food supply. It seemed empowering for the kids to participate in an experimental activity similar to the acclaimed scientist Darwin that it is associated with!

**I later found out this activity is a state mandated lab activity for the Regents. Another variation we did in class was to have students sift “food” through a paper plate with holes in it.