A Day in the Hot Labs

Posted by Science Explored on December 04, 2012

STEMscopes is a common word that students in my fourth grade class use daily. From online activities to engaging student centered investigations, the program meets the needs of all my students. Klein School District imbedded the STEMscopes program into its elementary science curriculum last year, and it has made a huge difference in how I teach science. The program is a perfect fit for any elementary science class, and explore activities can be performed in a classroom as well as in a science lab.

Wow Moment
Maurine's students loved watching a gummy bear turn to a pool of hot goo.

During a recent lesson on Changes from Heat, the students were first engaged in an activity where they changed pink lemonade from a liquid into a slushy solid. This activity excited them, and they were curious to explore and discover more about changing matter using heat. After gathering their science tubs of materials, and reading over the Stemscopes Student Guide, the challenge was on for them! They discovered how various items changed from one state of matter to another during heating and cooling. To see the students observing what was happening to the gummy bears, marshmallows, glue stick, chocolate chips, water, and ice, showed me that they were fascinated in the changes that were occurring. After the heating process, the groups placed their heated items into the freezer and again predicted the outcome. Then they scurried over the see what was happening with a bottle of blue water which they had placed ice cubes in earlier in the investigation. Seeing the drops of water on the outside of the bottle and discovering when the drops were wiped off with a white paper towel, the paper towel was void of blue stain, created a stir among the students about the possible reasons for the outside water to be clear.  My students’ curiosity showed during each part of this lesson, and it was obvious that learning was taking place. Finally after the cooling process for the items was studied and everyone recorded their observations on their Student Journal Sheets, the children were given the opportunity to talk about what they had learned and encouraged to participate in a quality questioning activity.

Silver Heat
A melty medley - why do some substances melt faster than others?

Planning and implementing lessons using the STEMscopes program makes teaching science fun and allows students to learn through discovery. After the lab on Changes from Heat, one of my students made this comment, “I love science, because we can discover things on our own and its okay if we do it wrong. You make our brains work harder by telling us to think about how we could do it a different way and finally we figure it out all by ourselves. You make us smarter, and then we can remember what we learned.”  

Maurine Whitney is a fourth grade teacher at Brill Elementary in Klein ISD.