1.1.1.1 Scientists

Grade: 
1
Subject:
Science
Strand:
Nature of Science & Engineering
Substrand:
The Practice of Science
Standard 1.1.1.1

Scientists work as individuals and in groups to investigate the natural world, emphasizing evidence and communicating with others.

Benchmark: 1.1.1.1.1 Observations for Questions

When asked "How do you know?,” students support their answer with observations.

For example: Use observations to tell why a squirrel is a living thing.

Benchmark: 1.1.1.1.2 Descriptions & Comparisons

Recognize that describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.

Overview

Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

Working alone or with others, scientists study the world and use evidence to explain the natural world.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

Use Data To Construct a Reasonable Explanation. This aspect of the standard emphasizes the students' thinking as they use data to formulate explanations. Even at the earliest grade levels, students should learn what constitutes evidence and judge the merits or strength of the data and information that will be used to make explanations. After students propose an explanation, they will appeal to the knowledge and evidence they obtained to support their explanations. Students should check their explanations against scientific knowledge, experiences, and observations of others.

Communicate Investigations and Explanations. Students should begin developing the abilities to communicate, critique, and analyze their work and the work of other students. This communication might be spoken or drawn as well as written.

Understandings About Scientific Inquiry

Scientific investigations involve asking and answering a question and comparing the answer with what scientists already know about the world.

Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations.

Scientists make the results of their investigations public; they describe the investigations in ways that enable others to repeat the investigations.  Big idea NSES

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks

1.1.1.1.1  When asked "How do you know?," students support their answer with observations. For example: Use observations to tell why a squirrel is a living thing.

1.1.1.1.2  Recognize that describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others. 

The Essentials

"How do you know so much about everything?" was asked of a very wise and intelligent man; and the answer was "By never being afraid or ashamed to ask questions as to anything of which I was ignorant."

John Abbott

Sid the Science Kid video where children use hand lenses/magnifying glasses to observe a roley poley/pillbug. 

Correlations 

NSES Standards:  Content Standard A:  As a result of activities in grades K - 4, all students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and understanding about scientific inquiry.  NSES

AAAS Atlas:  Scientific Inquiry:  Evidence and Reasoning in Inquiry:  Ask "How do you know?" in appropriate situations and attempt reasonable answers when others ask them the same question.  AAAS

Benchmarks of Science Literacy

The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise

Common Core Standards

1.1.1.1.1

Math:

Use basic concepts of measurement in real-world and mathematical situations involving length, time and money.

1.3.2.1 Measure the length of an object in terms of multiple copies of another object. 

Language Arts Standards: 

1.6.8.8   With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

1.1.1.1.2

Math:

Use basic concepts of measurement in real-world and mathematical situations involving length, time and money.

1.3.2.1 Measure the length of an object in terms of multiple copies of another object. 

Language Arts Standards: 

1.6.8.8   With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 

Atlas of Science Literacy:  When asked to use evidence to judge a theory, students of all ages may make only theory-based responses with no reference made to the presented evidence.  Sometimes this appears to be because the available evidence conflicts with the students' beliefs (Kuhn, et al 1988).  AAAS

Vignette

"Mr. Sanders, I don't think that grass is a plant," states Andrea, age seven, on a bright, sunny day during the third week of school in her second-grade classroom in a Midwest suburban elementary school.

Mr. Sanders kneels down to Andrea's eye level and replies, "Well, Andrea, I think you just made a claim!  Would you like to share your claim with the rest of the class?"

Andrea nods her head, and Mr. Sanders calls the students to the carpet.

As the students gather around the teacher's feet at the carpet, Mr. Sanders invites Andrea to share her claim.  She begins, "Okay, class, my claim is that I don't think grass is a plant."

The room erupts in chatter when one small boy calls out, "Hey, Andrea, what's your evidence?"

"Well," she thinks as she replies, "I read in that book over there that all plants have roots and I have never seen any roots on grass, so my claim is that grass can't be a plant." 

Once again the room is abuzz.  Mr. Sanders has an idea.

"Hold it here.  Andrea has made a claim and has provided a bit of evidence to support her claim.  Let's see here.. okay...if you agree with Andrea, why don't you come stand on this side.  If you disagree, come stand over here."  The children hustle and chatter, but when all are situated, one small boy is the only one opposed to Andrea's claim.

"Hector," states Mr. Sanders, "you don't agree with Andrea?"

"No, I don't.  I KNOW grass is a plant, I don't know about the root thing," he thinks. 

Another child from Andrea's side calls out.  "We need to take this to COURT!"

Hector, still thinking, calls out, "I've got it!  You know when you pull out a stick of grass, there's that white part at the bottom.  That has to be the root!"

A chorus of "no's" rises up from the class.

"Okay, okay," Mr. Sanders attempts to provide direction.  "So, we have two claims and it appears we need to gather some evidence.  What could we do to investigate this question --- is grass a plant with roots?"

Jason says, "Well, I think we better go to the playground and pull up some grass!"

Hector adds, "Yeah, and let's put the evidence in a bag so we can examine it when we get back to the classroom."

So the students get organized and head to the playground.  They are amazed as they pull up a blade of grass and examine what could be considered a root.  Andrea says, "Okay, this grass may have roots, but that grass over there doesn't."

With Andrea's comment, each child chooses a different spot from around the school to pull up a small sample for examination.  They return to the classroom, and the children share their samples and conclude that Andrea's claim is wrong---grass is a plant.

"I still stick with my claim," states Andrea.  "I know the grass at my house does not have roots, so grass cannot be a plant."  Mr. Sanders encourages her to gather some evidence at her home tonight and report back to the class.

The next morning, a sullen Andrea walks into the classroom.  She slowly lifts her bag with a clump of grass, makes eye contact with the class and Mr. Sanders, and simply states, "I'm speechless." 

Norton-Meier, L., Hand, B., Hockenberry, L., & Wise, K. (2008). Questions, claims and evidence. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

Benchmark 1.1.1.1.1  When asked "How do you know?," students support their answer with observations. For example: Use observations to tell why a squirrel is a living thing.

1.  Classrooms raise live organisms, like, insects, crayfish, fish, for example.  Students use science notebooks to record their observations and the amount of food and water given to the animals on a daily basis.  They record in their notebooks the amount of food and water remaining each day before replenishing.  Over time, these observations are used to ask questions like, "What do animals eat? Do animals need water?"  Then using evidence from the notebooks, the students can provide "How do you know?" answers to these questions.  

Brunsell, E. (Ed.). (2008). Readings in science methods, K-8. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

2.  Students keep a science notebook to record their observations and look at evidence to make claims about "How do you know?" regarding a concept studied in science.

Nesbit, C., Hargrove, T.Y., Harrelson, L. & Maxey B. Implementing Science Notebooks in the Primary Grades Heldref Publications. (need copyright permission)

Nesbit, C., Hargrove, T.Y., Harrelson, L., & Maxey, B. (n.d.). "Implementing Science Notebooks in the Primary Grades." Retrieved from ERIC - World's Largest Digital Library of Education Literature. (need http address)

3.   "Is It An Insect?"  In this lesson, students learn basic characteristics of insects and then make an insect using arts and crafts materials, with those basic characteristics.  Students can answer, "How do you know it is an insect?" by listing the characteristics.

Oberhauser, K. (1999). Monarchs in the classroom. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.

4.  FOSS Insects kit:  While rearing various insects, students answer questions like:  "How do you know insects need water?  How do you know insects need food?  How do you know insects change life form (metamorphose) from one form to another? How do you know butterflies start as eggs? How do you know eggs become larvae?" etc. 

FOSSweb insects

5.  FOSS Pebbles, Sand & Silt, Investigation 2 River Rocks:  Students put unwashed sand in a vial with water.  After shaking and letting settle overnight, students observe.  Then they can ask "How do you know sand is a mixture of sand, silt and clay?"

FOSSweb: Pebbles Sand and Silt

6. A touch walk provides an opportunity to make observations and write descriptions of objects in students' school environment.

A touch walk

Benchmark 1.1.1.1.2  Recognize that describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others. 

1.  Use science notebooks for students to record their observations.

Nesbit, C., Hargrove, T.Y., Harrelson, L. & Maxey B. Implementing Science Notebooks in the Primary Grades Heldref Publications. (need copyright permission)

Science notebooks

2.  FOSS Insects:  Students use drawings and writing in their science notebooks to show what insects look like and to draw the life cycles of specific insects. FOSSweb Insects

3.  FOSS Pebbles, Sand & Silt, Investigation 1First Rocks:  Students sort rocks and discuss with a partner, small group and/or large group about the three types of rocks in their collection.  One student tells their description of one rock while other students decide which of the three rocks the student is describing. FOSSweb Pebbles, Sand and Silt

4.  Green potted plants are used to give students practice in making observations and developing communication skills.

 Looking at green plants

Instructional suggestions/options

1.1.1.1.1  

1.  Keep track of phenology using Journey North  a global study of animal migration and seasonal change.

2.  Have classroom pets or a schoolyard garden so you can make ongoing observations.

Nature journaling

1.1.1.1.2

1.  Using Good Descriptors from Rezba, R.J., Sprague, C., & Fiel, R.L. (2003).Learning and assessing science process skills. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company:

Do this activity alone.  Once you have completed it by yourself, talk with other students about what they observed about the objects and add to your list of possible descriptors.

GO TO the supply area and obtain a set of Sensory Materials.  In this activity you will explore a wide variety of objects displaying several different properties.  As you observe these objects think about how you would describe their properties to someone else.  Your task is to generate a list of descriptive words (descriptors) that can be used to effectively communicate what you observe (smell, feel, taste, hear and see) to others. 

Keep in mind you are not attempting to name the objects or describe how you feel about the properties, you are just describing properties.

Some words to describe how things smell.

 

 

 

 

Some words to describe how things feel.

 

 

 

 

Some words to describe how things taste.

 

 

 

 

Some words to describe how things sound.

 

 

 

 

Some words to describe how things look.

 

 

 

 

Self check:  Some words to describe how things:

Smell:  sweet, rotten, smoky, fresh, spicy, pungent, strong, moderate, weak, lemony, oily, minty moldy, woody, sweaty, perfume-like.

Taste:  sweet, sour, bitter, strong, moderate, weak, rich, spicy, syrupy, acidic.

Feel:  rough, smooth, sandpaper, feathery, slick, cold, hot, warm, cool, rubbery, prickly, sharp, soft, hard, gritty, fuzzy, furry, scaly, cottony, bumpy, oily, waxy, sticky, wet, dry, moist, slippery, leathery, powdery, crumbly, creamy, glassy, jagged, slimy, vibrating.

Sound:  loud, moderate, soft, brassy, high, low, medium pitch, sharp, dull, rattle ringing, muffled, clear, distinct, squeaky, bark-like, scraping, tearing, banging, crashing, dripping, clickng, crinkling, abrupt, continuous, sudden.

Look: colors, shapes, designs, shiny, dull, clear, cloudy, sparkles, bubbly, bright, intense, continuous, interrupted, muted.

2.  Have classroom pets or a schoolyard garden so students can make ongoing observations in their science notebooks.

New Vocabulary 

Vocabulary/Glossary

  • Claim: Something I know about an object.
  • Evidence: How I know my claim is true or how I prove my claim is true.
  • Hand lens or magnifying glass: A tool used to make things look bigger.
  • Measure: Using numbers to tell the size of an object.
  • Observe: Using your senses to tell what an object is like.
Technology Connections 
  • Use flip cameras to videotpe or digital cameras to record observations.
  • Make drawings using digital drawing programs
  • Short video on making observations

Brain Pop, Jr. making observations

Cross Curricular Connections 

Writing connection:  A lesson plan for nature journaling with six ways to use for primary grades.

Nature Journaling

'97 Framework:

History and Nature of Science developing an awareness that science is something that students do and relating that to what scientists do.

K-4 students are curious and learn through active experiences. They are eager to know more about the world and are developing strategies for learning about it. Educators can capitalize on and nurture the natural curiosity of students in the classroom. Through the study of science, young learners can expand their learning strategies as they develop an appreciation for science and begin to develop an understanding of fundamental science concepts. 

All K-4 students should have active science experiences that include all of the content areas, including inquiry, physical science, life science, earth and space science, science in personal and social perspectives, science and technology, and the history and nature of science. As they participate in explorations of the world around them, they learn basic skills and gain understanding through systematic investigations of familiar materials and objects. 

During the elementary years, science should be a frequent and meaningful part of the academic experience of all students. Science concepts can be woven into the curriculum (see Chapter 4: Connections).  When students read fiction and nonfiction literature, write about their scientific encounters, and draw and graph what they observe and measure, science concepts can be reinforced and clarified and connections made between what they are learning in other subjects and everyday life. 

It is essential that the science taught to children in grades K-4 is developmentally appropriate. The content, instruction and assessments must meet the student at his/her developmental level. This Framework, along with the Minnesota Graduation Standards and the National Science Education Standards provides guidance for making these decisions. 

Because K-4 students are building a picture of how the natural world works, they need to have multiple  opportunities to observe, compare, categorize, order, record, and communicate.

Using their senses and simple tools, students can recognize characteristics of objects and the environment and describe them in pictures, words, and with actions. They also compare and contrast their observations about these objects and the environment with what they already know about the world. K-4 students can focus their attention, use logical reasoning, and understand and use language as a tool for communicating in science.

Direct experience is essential for elementary students and the classroom is a busy place where their curiosity is met with an array of materials to explore and discuss. But science must be more than just a collection of "hands-on" activities. Science experiences should relate to the standards, make connections with the student's world, and be developmentally appropriate. Students need time to talk and think about their work. Doing alone is not enough. Through these experiences students learn to relate their ideas to evidence, gain an understanding of science concepts, and experience the excitement of an "Aha!" in learning.

References 

Additional resources

Teacher resource: 

Folsom, J., Hunt, C., Cavicchio, M., Schoenemann, A., & D'Amato, M. (2008). How Do You Know That? In E. Brunsell (Ed.), Readings in Science Methods, K-8: an NSTA Press Journals Collection. Arlington, VA: NSTA.

Student books:

Avery, D., & Hurford, J. (1998). What Can It Be? Auckland, N.Z.: Shortland Publications.

Fowler, A. (1992). How Do You Know It's Fall? Chicago: Childrens.

Fowler, A. (1992). How Do You Know It's Spring? Chicago: Childrens.

Fowler, A. (1992). How Do You Know It's Summer? Chicago: Childrens.

Fowler, A. (1991). How Do You Know It's Winter? Chicago: Childrens.

Krueger, C. (1993). Noses. Mt Eden, Auckland: Shortland Publications.

Lehn, B., & Krauss, C. (1998). What is a Scientist? Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.

Stuart, C. (2004). Is It Hot or Cold?: Learning to Use a Thermometer. New York: Rosen.

Todoro, C. (2008). Is It Rough? Is It Smooth? Rosen Pub Group.

Assessment

Assessment of Students

1.1.1.1.1

1.  A rock is living or nonliving.  Circle one. Tell how you know.

2.  Show a picture of a milkweed leaf before it is put in a monarch caterpillar cage (substitute other organisms for monarchs to match organisms studied in your classroom).  Then show a picture of the same leaf one day later.  What do you know about what monarch caterpillars eat?   How do you know? 

Oberhauser, K. (1999). Monarchs in the classroom. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.

3.  How do you know a person is growing taller? 

1.1.1.1.2

1.  Observe the aquarium (insect habitat, plant, rock, leaf) picture and write three observations. Rezba, R.J., Sprague, C., & Fiel, R.L. (2003). Learning and assessing science process skills. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

2.  Pencil & Paper Teacher Observation Checklist from Rezba, R.J., Sprague, C., & Fiel, R.L. (2003). Learning and assessing science process skills. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Student name

Uses appropriate vocabulary to describe objects and events

Communicates clearly

Listens to others

Selects and uses appropriate communication tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Assess a students' science notebook entries.  Does the drawing show the important parts so others can know what was drawn? Does the writing tell what was observed using at least four of the five senses?

Assessment of Teachers

1.1.1.1.1

1.  What measuring tools need to be available so students can make qualitative observations so they can give evidence for how they know?

2.  What skills and vocabulary do my students need to describe their observations?

3.  What are claims and evidence do students need to make for each of the science units of study?

1.1.1.1.2

1. What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative observations?

2.  What safety concerns need to be addressed when telling students to use their five senses?  Answer: It is inappropriate to taste most objects studied in first grade (designed objects, rocks, animals) so a reminder about that is good.  Dust may be a concern with some earth materials for students with asthma.

3.  What are ways to facilitate students sharing their observations?

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk 

After initial observations, ask students words they would like spelled on the board to enhance their writings.

Provide hands-on, engaging activities like the ones in this framework where students observe actual objects.

Start with simple science notebook skills so students can build them progressively.

English Language Learners 

1.1.1.1.1

Students use their first language to tell their observations before writing or telling in English.

After initial observation, provide a word bank with pictures of words students will need to provide claims and evidence.

1.1.1.1.2

Students use their first language to tell their observations before writing or telling in English.

After initial observation, build a word bank with pictures using words students will need to provide claims and evidence.

Extending the Learning 

1.1.1.1.1

Students support their answer with more claims than expected for other students. 

1.1.1.1.2

Students conduct their own science investigation based on one of their observations.

Multi-Cultural 

Lesson:  "Exceptional Apples"  develops observation skills while observing different types of apples.  The lesson teaches similarities and differences in apples and students. 

The Educator's Reference Desk

Special Education 

From Brunsell, E. (Ed.). (2008). Readings in science methods, K-8. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Steele lists a number of ideas for teaching strategies to be used with special education students: 

1. Collaborate with special education and general education teachers. 

2. Create lessons based on themes or big ideas. 

3. Incorporate explicit instruction on the lesson topics. 

4. Use graphic organizers and visual representations. 

5. Model behaviors and strategies you want students to follow.

Study strategies include:

1. Study guide use. 

2. Material review tips. 

3. Note-taking practices. 

Parents/Admin

Classroom Observation 

Administrators

Jorgenson, O.:

What K-8 Principals Should Know About Hands-On Science

1.1.1.1.1  Students will be writing and drawing in their journal or telling about observations they made about designed objects, rocks, or animals using their senses.  When asked what they know about one of the objects, students should be able to tell how they know:  measuring, using a hand lens to see closely, counting, or observing changes. 

1.1.1.1.2 

After making observations, students will share with their partners, small group or the whole class what they noticed about an object. 

Parents 

Brain Pop, Jr.  Making Observations Brain Pop, Jr.