Today on the blog is Courtney Garside, BLS Science Teacher- talking about how GId provided the roadmap they needed to structure the learning so students would find and stick with their own interest.
Last year, navigating the science fair project as a first year teacher, I noticed that a lot of my students had taken experiment ideas from various websites that had databases of pre-made ideas. Few of them had found a topic they were genuinely interested in and stuck with through the experiment process.
My goal for this time around was to expand on the brainstorming phase of the project development and guide students to find something they were really interested in. I wanted them to see it through to the end. I spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about ways to expose students to different topics that might lead them to find one that they would enjoy learning about.
The first phases of the GID were the perfect roadmap to facilitating the brainstorming phase of our science project. We focused much of our time in the Open and Immerse phases to expose students to the science that is all around them. They completed an observations and questions log over the course of a week to see how the things they interacted with on a daily basis connected to science concepts. They looked at different topics within an activity they are interested in to see how science plays a role in the things they do outside of school. They engaged in Inquiry Circles to discuss and develop their ideas.
Throughout the Explore phase, we compiled a set of resources that gave the students the information they needed, but left a lot of the thinking to the students. Our greatest challenge was creating these resources. It is much easier to make a worksheet where every student does the same thing and has the same outcome, but generating activities with the depth and breadth that would make the brainstorming really effective took a lot of time and effort.
In the end, the work paid off. Almost all students stuck with the topic they were interested in and created a unique and creative experiment from it. Students were actively engaged in the research process because they were interested in what they were reading.
This is such an important insight, Courtney! You are mirroring an authentic process used by scientists… Einstein wrote: “The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”