Category: Videos

Science For Six-Year-Olds: The Butter Experiment

This semester I took a multimedia journalism class, and decided that it would be great to get my blogging buddies from Mrs. Podolak’s first grade class involved in my work. So, I paid a visit to their classroom to document just what goes on during a science experiment, and what makes science in the classroom so important, even for the primary grades.

From Liquid to Solid, First Graders Learn The States of Matter
In the elementary school classroom science lessons showcase the ability to engage students through different types of learning.
The first grade students at Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School in Summit, NJ are optimizing their opportunities to learn by participating in a hands-on educational experience. If you ask them though they will tell you they are having a fun, and tasty, time. The students are learning the states of matter by making, and then sampling, butter to exemplify the transition from a liquid to a solid. Science is a core subject for students at all levels, but it holds special significance for students in the primary grades. 
“Starting at the primary level, teachers are immersing their students in the scientific process and encouraging their role as scientists,” says Matt Carlin, Principal, Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School. “As scientists, students develop an understanding of the elements and relationships in the natural world. They engage in observations, form a hypothesis, and test through experimentation to arrive at a conclusion. These experiences are invaluable at the primary level because they establish a foundation of learning that will develop through a child’s academic career, and in many cases beyond as they enter the work force.”
According to Carlin, the basis for any curriculum design is to provide students with a learning experience that is both meaningful and engaging. Carlin cites Howard Gardner’s 1983 theory of multiple intelligences, which states that there are various aspects of intelligence, to explain why for some primary students, science lessons are particularly useful. Gardner’s theory includes the naturalistic learner, a student who feels a greater sense of connectedness and understanding with the environment. Carlin says this is an area of strength for some students that can be optimized during scientific experimentation.
“A hands-on approach to science instruction immerses our students in the role of being a scientist and also attends to the different learning styles and preferences that are so highly evident in our classrooms,” says Carlin.
The inherent hands-on nature of science experimentation has known benefits for young students. For well over a decade educators have been tying knowledge of childhood brain development into educational practices to create learning environments that are optimized for each level of schooling. According to Kenneth Frattini, Vice Principal of Milburn Middle School and former elementary curriculum facilitator, the hands-on nature of scientific inquiry and experimentation is precisely what children at the elementary level need to help improve their absorption of information.
“Children have an enormous and natural curiosity regarding the world around them. In educational terms; students who have learning experiences through experimentation and self-discovery appear to retain and apply more information,” says Frattini.
In Susan Podolak’s first grade classroom at Lincoln-Hubbard, it can be surprising just how much complex information primary students can understand. In their liquid to solid experiment the children were able to grasp that on the molecular level there are “air bubbles” that help cream keep its form as a liquid. When these air bubbles are removed, in the case of their experiment by shaking the cream, the liquid will change states and transform into a solid.
This complex idea was still approachable for six-year-old students due to what Principal Carlin describes as the student’s ability to figure things out on their own, within the confines of the right curriculum. Appealing to different types of learner, and reinforcing information through hands-on experiences aren’t the only things science lessons have to offer primary students. According to Carlin, science lessons also have value for primary students because they make learning fun.
“In all likelihood, these are the experiences that students will retain, transfer, and use in future learning situations,” says Carlin. 

My First Video Shoot

I am working on my last project for my integrated media and storytelling class, which is going to be an iMovie, with some added pictures and audio. Today I went and shot the video and pictures, and I just wanted to share a few of the things I learned along the way. I’ll be posting the finished project once I get it all edited (I promised my subjects I’d put it up here) so stay tuned, but in the meantime:

  • It is harder than you’d think to make sure you aren’t cutting off a subject’s head in your shot
  • I drink too much coffee to hold a camera steady
  • Sometimes the B Roll contains the real gems
  • People are comfortable in a group, but get them alone and they can freeze up
  • Fluorescent lighting is no one’s friend
  • A rolling desk chair can be a fun, and useful prop
  • I still hate how my voice sounds when it is being recorded
  • The smaller the camera, the less people realize you are shooting them
  • Sometimes getting the shot means getting down on the floor, or up on a table
  • I’m really tall, I’m really nice, I give good hugs, and I’m like totally old enough to have a husband by now. (My subjects might have been more interested in me than the science, but the interviews were great!)

Now here’s a little hint about what shooting my last project entailed, and what my topic will be:

I love my blogging buddies!

Covering The Wisconsin Science Festival

In my integrated media and storytelling class this semester our first project was to cover an event using pictures and audio, and combine it into a slideshow. I chose the first Wisconsin Science Festival at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

I had some upload problems trying to convert from a SoundSlides project into something uploadable but I finally got there. I edited the pictures in Photoshop and iPhoto, and edited the audio using Audacity. I lost a lot of photo quality in the conversion, but please watch and let me know what you think. This was my first foray into multi-media so any feedback would be much appreciated.

Science For Six-Year-Olds: The States Of Matter

This is a special post for my science blogging buddies in Mrs. Podolak’s (my Mom’s) class at Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School. This year I will periodically be blogging about the topics the first graders study for their science units. All of these special posts will be distinguished by the title “Science For Six-Year-Olds.” Even if you’ve already passed the first grade, I hope you’ll still enjoy these posts as we go back to basics to learn about science.
Hello First Graders! I am so excited to be your blogging buddy this year. My name is Erin, and I’m a science journalist. A science journalist is someone who writes about different science discoveries, and tries to talk about science in ways that everyone can understand. I go to school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Have any of you ever been to Wisconsin? Mrs. Podolak can show you where Wisconsin is on the map. I grew up in New Jersey just like you, but now I’m pretty far away. I moved here to learn more about being a science journalist.

I heard from Mrs. Podolak that you are studying the states of matter. Matter is anything that occupies space and has mass. Matter comes in different forms, which you should already be familiar with. There are solids, liquids, and gases. A solid is firm or hard and has a fixed shape. A liquid flows and moves, and can change shape based on the container it is in. A gas is something that expands to fill any space available.

I think the following song could help you understand the difference between solids, liquids, and gases. It is by a band called They Might Be Giants:

Can you come up with some examples of things that are solids, liquids, or gases? Let me know if you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments and I’ll write back. I hope you are loving first grade so far and I’m looking forward to talking to you throughout the year!