Developing Freedom of Choice in Learning during 8th Grade Science

I am working with another one of our great staff members in trying to develop a project that allows students some freedom in their learning and possibilities to showcase their knowledge while providing some parameters so it is not pure chaos.

Here is the basic structure. We are currently seeking some guidance and ideas to help make this a more successful project.

Key Science Topics

  • Newton’s Three Laws
  • Momentum
  • Conservation of Energy
  • Gravity
  • Work and Power
  • Kinetic and Potential Energy
We are thinking that students can create Design Teams of 1-3 students to come up with a blueprint of a design of an experiment/simulation/construction of their learning. We are thinking that they will have to incorporate at least three of these major ideas into a seamless presentation of some manner.
We are stuck on the following
  • A launch to kick it off
  • More precise parameters to really make this an engaging higher order learning opportunity and not just a cookie cutter spew of facts looking pretty
  • Something that is different from how things have always been taught
As always I will share the results when all is said and done. If you have a suggestion or idea we would love to hear from you.
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Monarch Butterfly Update – Day 17

I have not updated our monarch caterpillar in quite some time. I have been posting pictures daily to the my Flickr set, but I just have not had to time write.

Here is quick update. We are now on day 17. This guy is getting huge. I will post the latest picture this afternoon in the Flick set(see below)

They are now to the point where they are eating 2-3 leaves. I mean the entire leaf with nothing left. Any day they will form the chrysalis. My son already had his monarch form the chrysalis. What is quite weird and I hope that I don’t miss out on this process while at school is that the chrysalis is under their skin. GROSS! They shed their skin and then BOOM it is underneath. This just blows my mind. I hope to capture this process and show it here on the blog. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the slideshow and watch how big he has grown. Hard to believe he was smaller than my fingertip two weeks ago.

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The Journey of a Monarch Butterfly: Day 1 and 2

Saturday morning, Aiden and I headed to the Putnam Museum for a cool presentation about Monarch Butterflies. We were able to see some amazing butterflies and learned quite a bit. I think I learned more than Aiden as he already knows a ton about butterflies.

I thought it would be cool to document the life cycle of our Monarch Butterflies. Aiden, Addy, and myself each took home a caterpillar. I have my own that I will taking care of along the way.

As of right now the caterpillar is quite small. We brought them home in these tiny little containers. Yes, those little black dots are poop. All these little buggers do is eat and poop. You can see the holes in the milkweed from their nonstop eating.

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I transferred mine to a larger jar. Here you can see how small the little bugger is in the photo below. This image below was magnified. We are talking a centimeter or so in length.

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Today, Sunday, August 26th, marks day 2 of our journey documentation. Notice how much more of the leaf has been consumed compared to the pictures above. Also, a ton more poop balls.

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I then had to transfer in some fresh milkweed. We have plenty of milkweed leaves and we store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. Crazy to think that in about a week or so this guy will be eating two leaves a day! 
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Tomorrow I document more. I tested out streaming video online of the caterpillar while away at school so classrooms can check it out. I will try to get that setup before I leave tomorrow morning. Hopefully this helps out some elementary classrooms. I know Aiden will get a kick out of this documentation.

I will be sharing some facts this week as well. Crazy stuff!

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