In so many schools and districts, our schedules don’t include a science and social studies block. For many of us, that means we integrate science standards and content into our ELA and Math blocks. In the past, this was true for our classroom, but this year, we have a dedicated 45-minute science and social studies block. Our science and social studies curriculum is our research projects that address our standards. But, we don’t want to leave out the hands-on science lessons.
Hands-on science lessons are when we bring the science standards and content to life. This is when we make the abstract ideas of science into concrete, real experiences that our kids need and crave.
Student Scientists Thursday/Friday
In our classroom, we do a hands-on science experiment every week. We call this Mad Science. We do these on Thursday or Friday, depending on our schedule each year. Hence, the name Mad Science Thursday or Mad Science Friday. Most of our experiments can be done in 30 minutes or less! There are three reasons for Mad Science in the classroom:
- hands-on experiments to build science content knowledge
- learn the scientific method
Let’s talk about the fun. The kids have the best reactions to the experiments. They squeal, scream, laugh, and TALK. This conversation is important for building language and vocabulary and learning science content. And that excitement gets kids interested in science and keeps them interested.
Kindergarten Science Experiments
One of the components of our Mad Science experiments is the scientific method. Starting in kindergarten, we learn the scientific method. We learn about making a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, and discussing outcomes. As part of our Mad Science lessons, we write and draw to record our observations.
We discuss the materials we’re using (all of which are common items). Then we discuss the name of our experiment, and based solely on the experiment’s name, the students make their hypothesis. We record these on our chart. Then, we conduct our experiment and record the outcomes. The students then draw what happens.
Speaking of materials, all of the materials are commonly used items. We buy them in bulk because many materials are used repeatedly. There is a materials list for each experiment in our Mad Science creations.
In our experiments, the students do 95% of the work. That’s why it’s called hands-on. I prep the materials, but students do it when it comes to the actual experiment. When it comes to clean up, the students also do the clean up (as much as they can). To avoid bigger messes, I sometimes do the cleanup depending on the outcomes. Think lots of liquids…I clean up those experiments.