An interview with Laura Babcock, Lower School Science
“The energy and excitement in the science lab is really something to see; I love watching my students discover a love for science!”
What have you discovered works for our Lower School ages when it comes to their science time?
I have taught elementary science and middle school chemistry, physics, and biology. My approach to elementary science is to give the students a lot of opportunities for hands-on exploration. I want the students to understand the science behind their explorations, and there is so much value in hands-on work, so I have structured my classes for direct instruction followed by hands-on activities. Not only do they learn the science, they learn how to observe, collaborate, follow instructions, and communicate their findings.
When we complete a lab, experiment, build, or investigation, we come back together as a class and discuss what the students observed, and wrap the lesson with having them explain the scientific concept to me in their own words.
What are some of the popular activities you've led this fall? What’s coming up after winter break?
We did a unit on matter and the students were able to build molecules using gummy bears and toothpicks. They explored basic structure on their devices, such as NaCl (table salt), then built the model.
The culmination of our WED (weathering, erosion, deposition) unit was a student-designed brochure on the Grand Canyon. We are currently working with Lego WeDo and the 4th graders are building and coding different projects.
We explored magnetism and static electricity. One activity that the students loved was moving a stream of water from a faucet with a charged balloon, and being able to see a magnetic field they created out of iron filings.
We explored bodies of water and landforms around the world using Google Earth, and completed the unit by building landform models and bodies of water with play-doh.
5th Grade: Exploring how energy moves through ecosystems and creating bio domes
4th Grade: Investigating waves
3rd Grade: Exploring weather and climate
Kindergarten: Learning about our five senses, and about winter animals and their adaptations
All grades: Basic coding using our Lego resources
What kinds of things can parents do with their kids outside of school that reinforces what they learn in your class?
Outside of my classroom, parents and guardians can ask questions about science class and ask their students to explain what they learned. This is sometimes difficult, because they often say "nothing." If the parents or guardians want to know some specific questions or what unit we are exploring, you can always email me and I'm happy to share specifics! That will help start the conversation.
Do you have any specific resources (websites, books, YouTube channels, etc.) to share?
I use a huge variety of resources, but most of the videos I use to supplement a lesson come from YouTube or Next Generation Science.