On Tuesday, March 7th, students from grade 6 to 9 took part in the biannual SIS science exhibition. This celebration of science learning gave students a chance to explore a science or engineering topic of their own choosing. The range of topics was immense and the level of enjoyment was high.
How was this project implemented?
The process began before winter break and students were given the task of deciding, "If you could use science to explore anything, what would you want to find out?" Then students were supported and guided through an authentic scientific exploration. Guidepost due dates were put in place to help them learn to manage this long term project and conferencing and advice were given from teachers and parents at each stage of the development of their ideas and exploration. When you looked at the exhibition as a whole you got a really good scope of the development of scientific understanding across the grade levels. The addition of an authentic, multi-age audience gave their discoveries value and they refined their explanations of their ideas with each sharing of their project.
Why are events like this beneficial for our students in the short term and long term?
These processes take a lot of time and energy for everyone involved. The development of independently designed investigations helps students grow in their understanding of the scientific process more than any other kind of experience. I'm sure many of you realize that you can tell children a lot of things but experiencing them first hand always has a greater impact. Our students doing science may not be perfected, mature science but they are learning to design ways to find out about the world around them. The design process we are using is a scaled-back version of one of the culminating projects that students will experience in their IB courses in high school. It offers long-term benefits by scaffolding a skill set that students will continue to use in their academic futures. Each time through the process they will get better at it and the process will become more natural to them.
Ultimately science is a human endeavor with the end goal of improving our overall understanding of the world around us. This sharing of information and ideas is not a solitary process but rather, one that is inherently social. By sharing with the community and each other students learn about the communal nature of scientific discovery. These kinds of events also build a shared community around the love of learning. The science department at SIS would like to thank each and every person who took part in helping to develop and foster our scientific community.
SIS Science Department