Boy, summer flew by fast! I can’t believe that we’re in the middle of September already! Our first week of school has come and gone; the middle school team has served two out of three Open Houses; and we’re now heading into our first science unit in class.
This post is a week behind, but I figured I’d share with you some of my favorite Back to School science activities that I used for our first week.
- Science Chat Lab – We had a shortened schedule on our first day of school so I decided to show a quick Animoto video introducing myself to my class and then had them do a shortened rotating stations lab. Amy Brown has a fantastic TpT product called “Science Chat”, which I used for lab. Students rotated among 5 stations completing various science tasks such as identifying general lab equipment, reviewing metric measurement, making observations and using graphic organizers, and using root words to figure out the meaning of a vocabulary word. While students worked on the task, they also asked each other fun questions about what they did over the summer or what their super powers were. It was a great way to get to know my new students while assessing their background knowledge.
- Classroom Syllabus and Room Scavenger Hunt – On the second day, the students have already sat through rules and expectations in four other core classes. I used Wordle to share with them a brief overview of the topics we’ll be learning in our units, quickly went through my five class norms, and then the class split into pairs or small groups to look for signs or objects in my room to help them fill in the rest of my syllabus. They found where our safety features such as the Emergency Window and fire extinguisher were located in the room, read my posters to determine Lab Safety guidelines and grading scales, and learned the ways they could get in contact with me. They also found where certain zones were in my room, such as where to turn in completed work or obtain copies of missed work if they were absent.
- Lab Safety Poster Memes – On the third day, students raced each other to see how many “wrong” things they could identify in a lab safety cartoon for their Do-Nows, or bellringers. After a short discussion over their cartoon findings, students were asked to select a scene from their Do-Now and come up with a lab safety rule for it. Students had to create Lab Safety memes on Google Docs or Google Slides. They created their lab safety rule with a meme photo and an explanation as to why it was important to follow their lab safety rule. We all had a lot of fun creating those memes, and now I have some great posters to laminate and share with next year’s class.
- Timed Puzzles for Graphing – In a review for graphing, students were challenged to see how quickly they can put a small puzzle together in teams. They competed against one another to set the best time. After a certain number of trials, they looked over their data records and created graphs to represent time vs trial. It was a fun way to review vocabulary and graphs.
- World of Crickets Inquiry – To get away from the idea of sequential steps in the “Scientific Method”, I taught the process of science as a cyclical process as shared from Berkeley’s Understanding Science website. I used a lab I learned from a biology workshop at Cornell this summer called “World of Crickets”. In this lab, students try to figure out the food preferences of crickets. We haven’t finished yet, but it is interesting to see their different ideas and thought processes!
What are some of your favorite first week middle school science activities?