Monday, August 31, 2015

Science, Cat's In The Bag, & Being Quirky

The Scientific Method! Again! I'm in such a science-y mood! By the time kiddos get to me in 6th grade they can repeat it and know all about it. #thestruggleisreal to make it awesome and exciting by the time they are in 6th grade. And doing something they will remember and LOVE is such a challenge. Scientific Method Fun is found with a few centers and one lab that we do. The LAB is called "Cat's in the BAG". MEOW! I use it to setup my expectations for how I want students to complete labs (the detail, organization, and descriptions I expect). I think the first year I called it Mystery Bag but it didn't have the same allure as "Cat's in the Bag!" so thus the title stuck. 6th graders like quirky. And I do too.






The purpose of this lab is to get students to write detailed notes and describe things--science isn't just science--it's writing too! To make sure your students know what is expected and how detailed they need to be it's important to set the stage for that.  ALSO we make connections to the scientific method!

(bags can also be just plain jane lunch bags too!)



First I label all of the bags #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 (I recommend no more than 8 otherwise things can get a little out of hand). I put one object in each bag and rolllllll it shut and then I got town stapling the bags sealed. I typically pick things that my students are familiar with and are around our classroom. Even the simplest objects can throw them for a loop!
I set up stations around the room and have those numbered as well.



Beginning with the kiddos I set up expectations for what I will be looking for (it is the beginning of the school year so brushing off those summer cobwebs is a struggle but it has to be done!). Sometimes I show past students examples of great labs or I make up my own (both good and bad). This is a really important part so they understand while yes, this lab is play, we are also doing science. It really sets the tone for the rest of the labs so I make sure I get it right the first time.

When the draw a super cool picture of what they think is in the bag...I encourage them to show their work with their groups and discuss together. This gets them excited and it also makes it so I don't get chicken scratch and lame-o work (I don't ever tell them this but you know the feeling after you've prepped and kids are doing awesome things and then you get work that is like :\ why did we do allllllll of this???). So I try and help them solve my teacher pet peeve problem without telling them about my teacher pet peeve. WIN!WIN!

We go over the lab rules. Students are to guess what's in the bag they can shake, touch and gently feel the bag to see what's in it (no shaking or doing anything crazy with the bag) then they have to discuss, draw and write a detailed description about what the think it is. Then do a final check of what is in the bag. The groups have to come up with a consensus as to what it is and fully fill out their lab sheets.


Students go from station to station trying to get this figured out!

The big reveal. We do the whole drum roll y'all. Make it exciting and meaningful right!?! Make it MAGICAL. We reveal and there is so much energy in the room from having correctly identified things in the bag, shock as to that really weird one was a staples, and its just all so FUN and SCIENTIFIC. I also have a prize if someone guesses them all correctly but it has never happened. Ha!

Then comes the discussion and connection to the scientific method (specifically about making observations, taking notes, and not guessing--have an educated guess). And they get it but you have to make these connections or else the whole lab was just play. And then the scientific method BECOMES REAL and your expectations become concrete. They weren't just guessing what was in the bags. Some are close, some are way, off, and some are spot on. And that's exactly how science works isn't it? Much like the bags the answer to our questions is hidden and we have to question, research, develop an idea, experiment, look at the data, and put the facts together.



Results? Data? Which side of the fence are you on? Or are you like me and use both?!?
(where's the monkey emoji covering it's eyes when you need it?!?)
ALSO...I have these so we can look at the parts of the scientific method.

Their exit ticket for the lab is to have a completed lab sheet. We work on a lot of this together. The question? WHAT'S IN THE BAG?, etc. So they put on finishing touches, write a reflection (how does this apply to science/the scientific method/experiments?), and turn in the lab. and TA-DAA! It's a fun one one and a great lab for the beginning of the year.

My students love this and they remember it. For some it's their favorite lab throughout the school year (over roasting starbursts and caramel popcorn scale models which is shocking to me ha! but I'm all about schnacks!).

If you'd like it all in a handy dandy PDF shoot me an email @ theteachyteacher@gmail.com and I'll happily pass it along.

***(update) After receiving requests for this activity from teachers all over (seriously! Israel and Zambia included) and my inbox being completely flooded (I LOVE you all!)  I have posted it in my tpt store here (and follow along too)!

And it is totally FREE!

Still feel free to email me for a pdf or to say hello!

Follow me on TPT for more school awesomeness! >>HERE!<<

>>>>>>>>>>>Wanting another fun scientific method activity? Click here!<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Over and Out!

21 comments:

  1. I like this idea, but what are the bubble wrap and tape for?

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  2. Hi Jacqueline! I use the tape to reinforce the bags and the bubble wrap to wrap around objects with sharper corners. If the object is heavier I've found the bag falls apart a lot quicker because of all of the fun exploration! Thank you for asking!

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  3. how do i download this? I can't find the link to the pdf...

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    1. Hi Krystin! Send me an email at theteachyteacher@gmail.com and I'll pass it right along. It will also be up in my tpt store later this week! :)

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  4. This would be great paired with book the "Blind Men & The Elephant"! I will be trying these together this year!

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  5. I love this! and will be using it. but am wondering what the difference is between "how did you research?" and "how did you experiment?"

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  6. Hi Victoria! Great question! So for the research I've done two things--either students can ask me a few yes or no questions about what is in the bags or they have have a short shake at each bag to give them a feel for what it might be. It's "simple research" but helps them rule out what might or might not be in each bag. Then students get a chance to really "experiment" and explore with what could be in each individual bag. Hope that helps! Thanks for asking!
    -Beth :)

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  7. This is so great for the beginning of the year! Thank you. Quick question - do you have them fill out a lab sheet for each bag??

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    1. Hi Cindy! Thanks so much for asking! I have them fill out one square on the "Cat's in the Bag Recording Sheet" for each bag. If you have any other questions I am happy to help! :)
      -Beth

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  8. Awesome idea...but what did you use the tape and bubble wrap for? They are listed in the materials needed. Thank you!!

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    1. Hi! There are sometimes a few items that I choose to wrap! One year I used a funky paper weight that would have easy torn through the paper bags--so I wrapped it. Also, I usually take a well known object--like an apple or old ipod and bubble wrap it so there's a little more guessing and discussion that will need to occur to figure it out!

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  9. Can you give some examples of the items you put in the bags?

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  10. Hello! Each year I do something different in the bags! Some favorites are a Mr. Potatohead, a big container of tictacs, candles, fake flowers, an old ipod/cellphone/digital camera, bubble wrapped stapler (I didn't want anyone to accidentally staple themselves), cool textured balls (usually from the dollar store or a switch pitch)!

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  11. Hello,
    Love the idea. Is it possible to see how a "bad" and "good" one looks like? If possible a student sample?

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  12. Thanks for the great idea! I love your labels for the different parts of the scientific method - might you consider creating a matching one that says "experiment?" :)

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  13. Hello Kathryn! Thank you for asking! Of course! "Experiment" is included in the download now as well as some other terms :) Hooray!

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  14. What do you usually have the students write for data/results and conclusion?

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  15. Just used this with my class of 1st & 2nd graders this morning, for our first day. It was a hit and they all loved it!! They got so into it that we will have to finish next week. Thanks for the great freebie!!

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  16. I would love to see student examples as well.

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  17. I love this.. I am teaching Science next year for the first time ever after teaching for 18 yrs. I can't wait to use this!!!

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