Friday, April 29, 2016

Climate Change, Solar Ovens and Exploring Patent Law

Coming to the end of the year, there is always the challenge of how to spark Grade 7 students to keep going as well as create assignments where they can also explore their developing independence. The class had four learning goals this week:

  • Science: Identify how heat is transferred and how heat loss can be reduced. 
  • Science: Look at trends and evaluate the amount of greenhouse gases accumulated over time and propose courses of action to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 
  • Math: Make inferences and convincing arguments using data and the analysis of data from charts, tables and graphs that compare two attributes investigated. 
  • Math: identify trends/patterns present to come to a conclusion on an argument
Science: Solar Oven Development
This week was day 2, 3 and 4 for the solar oven project. At this point, students had already determined if they wanted to be in a group, or working alone. Many had already identified the modifications they wanted to make to the "base model" and created experiment planners to test their new ideas. They had also thoroughly read through their peer's lab reports from the individually created heat labs completed over the March Break to find ideas and evidence for possible modifications. 

I really appreciated how the students bought into the hypothetical situation of being in an information bubble. They have only the results from their March Break lab reports to reference as evidence for a design modification. By doing this, students were reading through each others labs with a fine tooth comb. What was the biggest take away was how the students were trying to find ways to use the experimental results of an experiment involving putting an ice cube in a cotton or wool sock to justify a modification to their solar oven. They were able to take the results and apply them to a new situation effectively. However, hearing their discussions over how the data could show their modification showed their deep understanding and also some misperceptions of heat transfer that I had not heard until this point. 

Students who had decided to complete their own experiment are now collecting the results and determining if they want to make the results public for others to use. It was also interesting to see their excited faces during the first trial and seeing the results coming in for each modification. Students were then asked by their peers if they would make the results public or not. It was great to see students challenged with the decision of if their ideas should benefit others or just themselves. We will be wrapping up this conversation next week with an analysis of various situations where the decision of sharing scientific results for others use occurred and the outcomes afterwards. Having Grade 7s debate the purpose of copyright and patent laws will be very interesting now that they have their own personal experience. 

Documents used this week:
Since creating their lab reports from the March Break heat labs, they have developed an understanding of what is required in a proper graph. What we have been focusing on is that each graph has a story to tell, and that this story was was only told because someone had a question. When reading graphs their job is to identify what the question was that was asked and how the graph tells the story of the answer. 

I also wanted students to realize that reading a graph is not difficult, but requires them to slowly decode the information. Even the most confusing graphs can be broken down into parts that they can work to understand independently of each other prior to bringing the ideas together. 

There is a range of abilities in the class for how students can interpret visual data. With the range, some students are still working on reading a line graph while others are ready for a greater challenge. To ensure that all students were being challenged in this area, I wanted to find graphs that were all trying to tell the same story, but in a different way. This way my students, no matter which graph they received to work on, needed to tells its story to the rest of the class so that the big picture of climate change could be understood. 

To do this I went to the IPCC and used their graphs and data that explain climate change. I broke students up to work on a graph that reflected their need for challenge. Upon receiving their graph, they had 10 minutes to work independently to work through the decoding document. Then, after the 10 minutes they joined up with the rest of their group to share what they had decoded as well as where they were stuck. The final goal of the week was to create a slide show presentation to share with the rest of the class. In this presentation they needed to show the graph, explain the graph by decoding it, identify the question that was asked to make the graph, the answer to that question as well as the "why should we care". We have now started the presentations and it is really interesting to see students make connections between the stories their graphs told to the stories being told by other groups graphs.

The next step is that a board is going to be made with all of the graphs. Students will then use string to make a physical link between two graphs (one being their own) and identify what story the two graphs together are able to tell. They will then need to explore what next steps can be made to improve the outcome

Documents used this week:

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