Friday, September 26, 2014

Testable Questions

Recently we spent time brainstorming about possible research projects. Students excitedly offered their ideas about different questions that they would like to test using our silkmoths. 

Shown here (on right), a 4th grader lists her initial questions in her science notebook and illustrates a molting larva:

1. How much do they eat in 10 minutes? 

2. Do they make silk before the cocoon making? 

3. We have silk worms that are different ages but do they care about the younger worms?

After we talked about how scientists go about forming a testable hypothesis, the students decided to try their hand at changing their initial questions into testable statements.

The same 4th grader uses a microscope to enhance her observational drawing and translates her questions into statements (her changes shown here to the right).

Later, as a class, the students listed additional wonderings that they are interested in investigating:

1. Are larvae attracted to light?

2. Does the pupa die in its cocoon if it's too hot or too cold?

3. Do the larvae gain weight at different rates if they have been fed chow vs. fresh leaves?

4. What is the exact number of days from egg to adult moth?

5. What are the different weights at each stage (larvae, pupa, adult) of the life cycle? 

6. How much silk can we get from one cocoon?

7. How long does it take to form a cocoon?

The students will form these questions into testable hypotheses (based in-part on researching primary source material) and then pick one (or two) statements that they will pursue by experimental design. I'm looking forward to seeing how they decide to design a reproducible protocol in order to test their hypothesis!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The power of keeping a science journal!

Our second week of science class was a whirlwind of good things. The students are becoming more comfortable with using their science notebooks. Many of them are developing detailed and methodical observational drawings and some are adding their personal wonderings.

Here a 3rd grader writes, "Can they produce silk at this age?" He decides that he will try his next observation using the microscope; hopeful to spot silky strands.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Silk Road Begins

First week back at school was a huge success. After a full summer of curriculum planning and school renovation we feel ready for another fantastic year. Happily our student number continues to grow and our eager explorers make teaching science an absolute treat. The start of the year began again with eggs. This time we are investigating the silk moth life cycle. Our K/1 classroom and our combined 2nd, 3rd,& 4th-grade classroom each had a batch of 50 eggs.

2nd grader
I was relieved to find that the eggs began to hatch just as students arrived on the first day of school. Some of us even glimpsed a few critters emerge from their egg cases (see hours-old larvae enjoying fresh mulberry leaves in video).

The students soon began their observational drawings of the tiny silkworms and measured the lengths to be about 1/4 cm.

As the students use their science notebooks they will track the morphological changes of the larvae and document observations over the next month.