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Science teachers - please help!



I am taking a masters level science methods class. We have to do a research paper on a question that has to do with how students learn science, or how science is taught. I am drawing a complete blank! I teach fourth grade, and I do teach science, but no questions having to do with its teaching/learning are coming to mind. The biggest problem I have with science is finding the time to fit it in - would that be a research topic? Something along the lines of how much science students are actually learning in our test-driven curriculum, since science and social studies are often a lower priority than math or reading?

If anyone has any ideas for a research topic, I would appreciate it! Thanks! :)


Possible idea

Maybe the impact of "investigations" style teaching---vs. "book teaching" on student performance on assessments, etc.?


Senior Member

I also thought of investigations/discovery/hands-on learning. This is much more enjoyable and meaningful for students.


My thoguhts

Hands on learning versus book/test lectures.

I did a "Science through Art " project with the 6th grade on Honeybees. They made an anatomically correct honeybee pinata; did mini posters describing the bee life cycle, the bee dance, hive strutures (that one was three dimensional with hexagon honeycomb cells); a large bee that had all the parts labled, etc. They all did better than they usually do on the unit test. 6th grade liked this so well, the ywant to do a similar project for evolution and the Big Cats.

5th grade is on a water unit. More hands on stuff - a "water words vocabulary" rainstorm - each raindrop has a different word and definition on it and they are falling from a cloud on the wall. The did hands on sedimentation and filtration exercises. This week they are going to start building a working small scale slow sand water filter.

8th grade did hand on chemical weathering experiments and soil analysis. Those who actively participated did better on the tests.

I would suggest as the other did hands on versus book and test methods for teaching science.


Senior Member
Wisconsin Fast Plants. google a search. Great hands on project. You plant seeds, grow, bloom, pollunate, seed pods form, plants dry up and harvest the seeds to plant next year. A complete cycle in seven weeks and doesn't take much time.

Rocks we are a small school one first grade classroom, one second grade classroom, one third grade classroom and etc. Our 3rd and 4th grade combine together a unit on rocks, every other year.

A quick hands on experiment is excellent.

ALKA SELTZER ROCKETS. (you can get empty film canisters from ---one-hour photo ---Wal-mart ---photo shops) This is an outside project. Fuji film canister – the kind where the lid fits inside the canister. The others don’t work.
1. Optional: Make a cone and tape it to the top of the canister.
2. Fill the film canister ½ full with warm water.
3. Put in ¼ tablet of Alka Seltzer – no more
4. Snap the lid tightly into the canister, turn it over on a hard surface and stand back. The lid is on the hard surface. The sodium bicarbonate will make the canister launch into the air. If you vary the temperature of the water, your rocket will shoot to different heights. The warmer the water, the higher it will go.
5. This was a fun and educational projects. Students had a blast.

Grow a sweet potato. A carrot top.

Put a stem of celery in a glass of dark red or dark blue water colored with food coloring and watch the water go up the cells to the leaves.

Mike Riley


One way science is learned is through paradigm shifts. Every person develops a model of the way the world works, and as science teachers we often have to change those paradigms by unlearning what students think they already know. This is how misconceptions are uncovered.