|When the topic of 21st century skills comes up we often think about the use of electronic technologies and information literacy. These certainly are important 21st century skills, but these skills are just part of a larger more comprehensive set of skills. Other 21st century skills include problem solving and critical thinking, communication and collaboration, leadership and productivity, and accountability and adaptability. This set of resources illustrates how good science instruction naturally embeds many of these skills.|
|Accountability and Adaptability|
|Examples include: |
- Working under a variety of conditions, e.g., in the lab, in the field, independently, with a partner, with a team
- Disposing of chemicals properly, using lab equipment properly
- Contributing equitably to team projects
|Science Safety Agreement (ORC#: 549)|
This resource provides a written safety agreement for science laboratories. Students must know and follow the science safety rules and sign the science safety agreement before participating in any science labs. Parents must read and sign the science safety agreement acknowledging the need for their child to follow the safety rules and procedures as set out by the contract. (author/kct)
|Clean It Up! (ORC#: 10371)|
This inquiry asks the essential question, "How should we deal with hazardous spills and waste?" Students build scientific knowledge and process skills as they work to answer the five related critical questions. Each critical question addresses a different aspect of the essential question.
The essential question is an engaging thought-provoking question set in a real-world context. Students must develop an understanding of underlying scientific concepts in order to answer the essential question. This understanding is developed through a series of critical questions. Critical questions provide students with learning experiences that increase their understanding of scientific content while gathering evidence to address the essential question.
This inquiry was prepared by the Ohio Resource Center to accompany the Science Program Models for Ohio High Schools developed by the Ohio Department of Education. (ts)
|Underground Adventure (ORC#: 9315)|
The activities in Underground Adventure guide students through
an outdoor field study of soil life and some of the variables that affect soil biodiversity.
Through these activities, students will gain experience in scientific skills such
as hypothesis, observation, and inference. When done together as a unit of study,
the activities are designed to help students answer this research question: What
is the relationship between the soil's physical properties, environmental and human
factors, and soil biodiversity? However, each activity is written as a stand-alone
lesson so that you can focus your study of soil biodiversity on one or more variables
as best fits your time and your students' needs. Simply tailor the research question
to reflect the activities you will do or choose activities that will help answer research
questions posed by students. In addition, this set of activities can serve as a model
after which students can design their own inquiry to study a research question that
|Go-Go Gadget: Invent a Machine (ORC#: 6542)|
In this promising practice lesson, students study the concepts of force, motion, and work as they analyze simple machines. They study the simple machines in complex machines, and track the transfer of force from input (effort) to output (work). Students collect, organize, represent, and analyze data from a human automation investigation using spreadsheet software. In a design challenge, students become inventors and identify work they want to perform, and then they invent labor-saving machines to do the jobs. The design steps of planning, drafting, construction, troubleshooting, and reliability testing are followed before students unveil their inventions to an audience. (author/ts)
|Communication and Collaboration|
|Examples include: |
- Sharing data with other students across the state, country, or world
- Developing a brochure to be distributed at the local library on the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of disease
|Mystery Boxes: Uncertainty & Collaboration (ORC#: 688)|
Students engage in scientific problem solving as they manipulate sealed "mystery" boxes and attempt to determine the inner structure of the boxes. Through this activity students learn that uncertainty exists in science, that science explanations seem less certain when they are based on indirect information, and that scientific uncertainty can be reduced through collaboration. (author/ts)
|Science Modules: Collaborative Decision Making, NASA's Deep Impact Mission (ORC#: 5238)|
This best practice lesson is designed to engage
in middle and high school students in activities that focus on collaboration and
communication strategies. These activities will strengthen
student understanding of and ability to use collaborative
processes and communication practices to clarify,
conceptualize, and make decisions. Students will compare the
risks of varying courses of action that confront scientists and
engineers. After the risks are identified, they will gather and
convey evidence supporting and refuting the viability of these
actions, and reach consensus. The module strategies rely
primarily on student investigation into the background
information that is necessary to support arguments; make
quantitative risk analyses; engage in debate, role-playing, and
persuasive writing/communication processes; and practice
group decision-making procedures. (author/ts)
|The Great Bean Race (ORC#: 6544)|
This best practice unit actively engages students by having them compete against classrooms from other regions to see which collaborative team can grow the tallest bean plant. Controlling for certain variables (including growth time and bean seeds), seven or eight teams in each classroom design and conduct a controlled bean-plant experiment to investigate ideal conditions for growth. Students synthesize bean-plant information into a newsletter that describes the project, their group bean plan, and facts about beans. (author/cb)
|Plugging In to the Sun (ORC#: 6550)|
This hands-on best practice unit explores solar energy. Students research the dilemma of using fossil fuels and how solar energy might solve this problem. They also work as engineers, and their task is to build a solar cooker that can successfully cook an egg. If this works, it may be the basis for more exploration on using solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
This is an exceptional unit on solar energy that includes a number of adaptations for students with varying abilities. It is important to note, however, that it does take a number of weeks to complete. (author/cb)
|Electronic Technologies and Information Literacy|
- Accessing real-time data to investigate earthquakes and volcanoes
- Retrieving scientific information from a variety of sources to answer questions that are not easily investigated in the classroom
|Amazing Space (ORC#: 208)|
An "amazing" site for middle grades and high school students, this resource offers interactive lessons, which include images from the Hubble Space Telescope, high quality graphics, videos, and animation. Space topics include black holes, galaxies, stars, comets, and our solar system. The site provides extensive resources in the Teacher Pages, including background information and ties to the National Science Education Standards and Project 2061's Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Teachers teamed up with scientists and engineers to develop these inquiry-based, interactive lessons.
|Mobile Inquiry Technology: Solar Cell (ORC#: 6152)|
Students collect data to answer the question, "Does the solar energy that reaches the earth vary with weather conditions?" in this best practice lesson. Students use a solar cell to investigate the changes in the amount of sunlight at ground level. They then enter the data they have collected into a spreadsheet and analyze the results. This lesson incorporates technology in a way that allows students to ask an intriguing question, collect data, and then organize, present, and analyze the data. This lesson could be incorporated into a larger lesson or unit on alternative energy sources and/or electricity production. (author/ts)
|Garbage: How Can My Community Reduce Waste? (ORC#: 5704)|
In this content resource students learn about waste management, how waste is handled now, and how some communities are doing it better. The resource includes online activities that challenge students' knowledge about solid waste. In the activities, students can test their knowledge about the hazardous waste we generate in our homes and try to shrink a landfill.
This resource is not a complete lesson. It could be incorporated into a lesson or unit on environmental issues, resource management, recycling, and/or science and technology. (author/ts)
|Musical Plates (ORC#: 527)|
Musical Plates is an Internet-based multidisciplinary project which will enrich a student's learning experience through "unique and compelling" applications of instructional technology. In particular, this project taps into some of the exciting new applications of the Internet in education by having students access real time earthquake data, interact with experts online, and publish their own work to the project web site. Students will tap into these fantastic resources all in the context of an authentic real world problem which they will need to solve using science and mathematics.
|Leadership and Productivity|
- Designing and conducting a scientific investigation
- Developing a plan to address some school or community problem (in the case of weather this could be something about preparedness for extreme weather events)
|Don't Trash the Earth (ORC#: 6547)|
This best practice unit engages students by making them student waste management consultants. They are 'hired' to evaluate their school and community recycling and waste management practices. After researching and analyzing past and current methods, teams develop a new recycling plan complete with cost analysis and supporting data. Teams propose recommendations to a committee supported by a slideshow. Brochures inform and persuade the public to take action. A student-designed Web page that promotes recycling is linked to the school Web site. In a final show of social responsibility, student entrepreneurs turn trash into treasure as they divert materials from the waste stream and turn them into attractive merchandise they sell at a holiday business fair. (author/cb)
|Biomes: Action for a Healthy Planet (ORC#: 6555)|
This best practice instructional activity asks students to become environmentalists and work in groups to develop solutions to contemporary environmental problems. Students in each group research the features of a specific biome and then investigate human impact and its harmful effects on the biome. Lastly, students use scientific principles to develop possible solutions to human encroachment. The results are then presented to the class in multimedia formats.
What's It Like Where You Live? is an excellent ORC resource that provides the user with an abundance of searchable biome information useful for this lesson in particular. Also, a possible extension to this activity is, The Ecology and Biome Unit , a resource that requires students to build a 4' x 5' free-standing biome project. (author/cb)
|Engineering Solutions (ORC#: 3474)|
The purpose of this lesson is to use Internet resources to explore the side effects of technology; and to design, implement and evaluate solutions related to the problem of waste disposal. At the end of the lesson students apply what they've learned to a practical real-life problem, reducing the school's garbage.
The Internet resources used in this lesson are very informative and engaging. Through these resources students can explore the history of waste management, explore the impact of various waste reduction programs on a city, and test their knowledge about hazardous waste. It may be helpful to organize the websites into a webquest to help students access the information quickly and easily. (author/ts)
|Raphanus sativus, Germination, and Inquiry: A Learning Cycle Approach for Novice Experimenters (ORC#: 311)|
This article takes a "tried and true" activity, seed germination, and makes it better. The article describes a learning cycle activity sequence that enables fourth-grade children to improve their inquiry ability and develop their understanding of factors influencing seed germination. Manipulating variables and observing the effects are natural extensions of children's innate curiosity. Open-ended investigations where children choose a problem, design and conduct an experiment, and analyze and communicate the results catalyze children's curiosity. The active involvement of children in these experiments provides experiential bases for discussions of the nature of science. This article describes open-ended experiments with seeds from the common garden radish (Raphanus sativus). In numerous research studies, learning cycle approaches have been shown to be effective in achieving a variety of educational goals. The phases of the 5-E learning cycle, Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Extension, and Evaluation, guide this activity series. (kct)
|Problem Solving and Critical Thinking|
|Examples include: |
- Designing a newspaper bridge that spans 50 cm and supports at least 2 kg
- Using multimedia tools to model a scientific concept
|The Stowaway Adventure (ORC#: 3281)|
This multidisciplinary best practice lesson is designed to expose students to real world problem solving through unique uses of instructional technologies. In particular, students will use real time data from the Internet to track a real ship at sea, determine its destination and predict when it will arrive. In addition, they will have the opportunity to monitor the weather conditions at sea and predict when rough weather might impact on the ship's arrival time.
It is important to note that this lesson is aligned to Earth and Space standards at the elementary level, but it may be too difficult for elementary students to comprehend and may be more appropriate for students at the middle and high school levels. (author/cb)
|Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet (ORC#: 6543)|
In this promising practice resource, students are put into the roles of marine biologists and oceanographers and are asked to describe the state of our world's oceans, explain the significance of healthy oceans for a healthy planet, and make suggestions for solving environmental problems in the watery part of our world.
This resource also includes instructional strategies, assessments and differentiated instruction for gifted, ESL, and resource learners. (author/cb)