how2 SCIENCE/DISCOVERY CENTERS
Like any other center in your classroom, your Science/Discovery Center should be a “go to” place. Think about the types of engaging materials and objects you need to provide so that your class can engage in a variety of self-directed explore activities.
In a perfect world, your classroom discoveries should be reinforced with materials in your Science/Discovery Center. Similarly, center-based discovery experiences should be complemented with classroom content and opportunities for extending and elaborating the discovery in either a small or large group setting. This approach allows all students to benefit from the experience, and provides an opportunity for reflection and discussion.
Whether you are developing science programs for your organization or individual lessons for your class, try to choose content, materials, objects, events and experiences that help build and elaborate your students’ understanding of key concepts, and which students to develop and apply their reasoning and process skills (observe, compare, contrast, sort, match, classify, measure, sequence, and seriate).
· Designate a specific area and label it.
· Include child-world and child-friendly materials.
· Location, location, location! Your center should be child-accessible, within reach, at eye-level and ready for discovery!
· Keep your center interesting, adding new materials during the year.
Basic Tools: thermometer, measuring cups & spoons, test tubes, pipettes, rulers, balances & scales, magnifying lens, specimen viewers, globe/map.
Concept Driven Collections (compare & contrast; sequence; seriate; and, sort & match)
· Diversity collections (beans, seeds, shells, rocks, plastic insects)
· Comparative collections: sea sponges & synthetic sponges with experiments (please do not use for painting); plastic insects (six-legs) versus spiders (eight-legs); bottle cap collection (size and color differences); evergreen cones (soft pine, spruce); winged seeds (pine, ash, maple, tree of heaven).
· Multi-sensory Discovery/Explore Collections (textured dominoes, cloth collection, mystery box, bead & light blocks)
Live/Active Experiments: sprout potato eyes, dehydrate apple slices, dehydrate raisins in the sun, wilt celery, compare seed plantings, root view in clear cups, parsnip, radish or carrot tops plantings, crstal formation (salt, sugar or baking soda), chromatography using water-soluble markers and coffee filters to separate colors)
Kid Finds! Encourage children to bring their “finds” for the science/discovery center.
· Books, printed posters, and photos (theme-driven and general science)
· Calendar with Weather Chart (observe and graph the number cloudy, sunny, rainy, clear days)
· Plant Watering Schedule
Student/Teacher Created Materials
· Theme-driven poster. Collage of pictures of animals, weather, flowers, etc.
· Concept-driven poster. Collage of pictures showing change, cycles, patterns, etc.
· Student Activities and Projects: child-created materials that complement classroom explorations (cloud types, symmetrical butterfly images, 3-piece bird puzzle, sequenced stages of plant or animal development)
· Question of the Day (Week) Poster. (Why is it important to take care of trees?)
· Hypothesis Poster. (Will it sink or float? Why?)
Specialty Activity Centers/Sensory Table/Outdoor Centers
· Magnetic Testing Activity Center
· Habitat Match-up Activity Center
· Bird Beak Pick-up Activity Center
· Make it Go! Ramps Activity Center
· Vegetable or Flower Garden (be mindful of the critters and creatures, both good and bad, that may visit your garden)
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