Science Tables

As I mentioned, a few weekends ago I had a training morning that included science and outdoors.  Well, they were really two separate topics.  Sure, there is science outdoors as well, but this was really two presentations in one morning.

In the science portion, we focused on the experiments in the classroom and the science tables.  I find several problems in classrooms that are somewhat universal. 

Some classrooms have absolutely no science.  The teacher does no teacher directed science activities and there is no science table out in the environment.

Some classrooms have science tables in them but the children do not engage with the science tables.  I have seen poorly set up tables which is the reason why the children don’t engage at the science tables.  I’ve also seen fabulously set up science tables with children not engaging in the activities set up there.

My focus today will be those later tables; the ones that are well equipped but are shown no interest.  There is one common problem as to why the children do not engage: they don’t know what to do with the materials.

I can set out a tray of baking soda, eye droppers, and cups of vinegar; but if I don’t show the children how to use the tools, they will not know what to do with them.

If I went to your classroom and set up three cups with three different types of paper, wet, rubber banded over the tops and then, next to them, put a tray of marbles out, would you know what to do?

Some of you might figure it out, but I’m guessing the children would walk right past it.

However, if I sit at circle and put a wet paper towel over a cup and then have children put one marble at a time on the paper towel while we count to see how many marbles it will hold and then we discuss what happened and then I put it out at the science table…well, I can guarantee that there will be several children at the science table exploring.

Yes, we need to give the children opportunities to explore the materials; however if they aren’t given a starting point, they will ignore the materials.  I see it over and over again.

Tomorrow, we will talk about how to have science activities that take several days to play out.

What items do you make sure to always have on your science tables?

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