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Easter Egg Science
OK, it is time to head to the local store and pick up some of those plastic Easter eggs on clearance. There are a thousand uses for them in the spring science world. One of my favorite second grade teachers is busy putting the words for the next few weeks into eggs and then into baskets for each student. Each day the students get to open a new egg and discover a new word. What a great way to teach some vocabulary. I wonder what I can do with science.
I love to gather little things from walks in the woods that are interesting and not easy to identify unless you look at clues. I have found bones of mice and birds, small crystals in stones, interesting shaped leaves, even fossils in shale. Each of these treasures can fit into one of the plastic eggs. Each one could contain a clue or two and given to a student they provide an interesting thinking activity where the student could look at the object, make some observations then add to the egg a strip of paper with their evidence and guess about what the object might be. I think with about 3 or 4 rounds or by the end of a week it would be a good sponge activity to open the eggs and discuss the guesses. Likewise, there are objects around our houses we can put into the eggs and have the same activity with manmade objects.
We are working with chemical reactions in my class. I think one set of the eggs will be filled with cut out elements and compounds. I will hand the eggs to students and ask them to arrange the elements and compounds into as many reactions as they can, keeping in mind the law of conservation of mass and the idea of reactants and products. If I include some numbers I can even ask the students to balance these equations. All that is needed for this activity is a set of several elements (like H2, O2, Cl2, Mg, and Ca) and a set of compounds (like H2O, MgO, MgCl2, HCl, Ca(OH)2, and CaO). The idea is to make the largest number of possible reactions with the sets. I know this can be done with sets of the same elements and compounds in envelopes. I think the eggs add a little pizzazz to the mix.
The eggs as goal setting helps might be another activity. I may ask my students to place in the egg one skill they would like to develop or one goal they would like to reach before the end of the year. I would guide the kids to make them possible so that the kids can put steps down to work towards these goals and place them in the eggs as well. Then, I will let the eggs sit in the student lockers (my kids have spaces at their own lab stations in the room so the eggs can sit there). I would encourage the kids to look at the goal several times a week. At a set time we can look back and see how many accomplished their goals and let them share what they did to get there. I may have to use several eggs for my goals.
If you are teaching food webs or chains you could put the photos or names of different organisms in each egg and ask the students to match up with one other student and define the relationship between each of the organisms or define the direction of energy between the two. For example if one egg has a grass and one has a mouse you would say that the mouse might eat the grass seed and the energy would flow from the seed to the mouse (more grass is needed to support the energy of the mouse). You could form a food web from the organisms contained in a class set of the eggs. This can work for physical science transformations of energy as well.
So, I am going to head to the store even one more time as my need for these plastic teaching tools seems to have exceeded my supply of the colorful orbs. If you have a good use for them post it and let the ideas flow.