Category Archives: Showing Cause-and-Effect Relationship

What is Hibernation? An Activity Using Discussion Frames (November Study #3)

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A discussion frame is an organizational tool that helps learners prepare a well-supported argument. By considering both sides of a provocative issue or claim, students are better able to build a case to support their own stance on the issue.

In this lesson, students will use a discussion frame in a group activity designed to help them compare hibernation and sleep. In the process, they will learn the defining characteristics of hibernation, and the different types of hibernation exhibited in the animal kingdom.

This lesson will also demonstrate the use of a simple monitoring technique using colored index cards, which students and teachers can use to check on student progress in discussion groups

discussion frame compare and contrast

Photo credit: (c) Michael Himbault, 2010 via Creative Commons

Materials Needed

  • Copies of the discussion frame (one per group of students)
  • Non-fiction resources (texts, articles, web resources) on hibernation and sleep
  • Writing tools
  • Colored index cards (red, yellow, green) – one set per table group

autumn nature study

Background Information for the Teacher

Before assigning the task to students, you will need to do your own research, to determine the following pieces of information:

  1. Are sleep and hibernation the same thing?
  2. What are the essential features of hibernation that I want students to understand?
  3. What key vocabulary do I hope that students uncover during their research?

Do not provide the answers to these questions to students, but use the information to guide discussion as students work, and when you debrief after the learning task.

What is Hibernation?

Most biologists define hibernation as “specialized, seasonal reduction in metabolism, concurrent with scarcity of food and cold weather (“Hibernation”. Bear.org. 2004-07-19. Retrieved 2012-11-27).

Some key physiological changes that occur in mammalian hibernation include the following:

  • Significant decrease in body temperature
  • Onset of a coma-like state, from which an animal has difficulty arousing
  • Cessation of eating and drinking
  • Cessation or drastic decrease in frequency of defecation and urination

States Similar to Hibernation

Estivation is a hibernation-like state that occurs during the summer, usually during extremely hot or dry periods.

Brumation is the term used to describe the winter physiological changes in reptiles, which cannot regulate their own body temperature. During this hibernation-like state, reptiles find refuge from freezing temperatures, as their surroundings cause decreases in their body temperature.

Torpor is a short-term period of reduced body temperature and metabolism, in response to diurnal or weather changes, such as extreme hot spells or the heat of the day in the desert.

So What is Sleep, Then?

While hibernation is characterized by significant changes in physiology, especially body temperature, sleep primarily brings on changes in brain activity, and only minor changes in physiology.

During sleep, heart rate and breathing rate decrease slightly, and body temperature decreases, but the changes that occur in these are not nearly as dramatic as the changes seen in hibernating animals, where one of the most marked changes is in body temperature. Sleeping animals can resume normal activities within minutes of being aroused, while an animal coming out of hibernation often acts sleep-deprived, and needs extra sleep over the next several days.

Conversely, a sleeping animal demonstrates dramatic changes in the amplitude and types of its brain waves, and different phases of sleep have their own characteristic patterns. Studies of the brain waves of hibernating animals show their brain activity looks much like the brain activity of wakeful animals.

Important Tier 2 Vocabulary Words:

  • Hibernation, sleep
  • Physiology, neurology
  • Rate, frequency, duration
  • Increase, decrease

Helpful Resources

autumn nature study

Building Background Knowledge

On the SmartBoard, on chart paper or on the board, write the word, hibernation. Invite students to share everything they think of when they think of the word, hibernation. As students share ideas, create a concept web, grouping like responses together (e.g., “sleep,” “body slows down,” “body temp drops” will be grouped together, as will responses like “bears,” “toads,” and other hibernating animals) – see diagram, below, for an example. It is not important to “edit” student responses at this time, as you will return to this concept web to revise it, after the students complete their research.

 

simple science strategies describing

Use a concept web to gather students’ prior knowledge about a scientific concept, such as hibernation. Ideas can be revised after further study. Image credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

Post the completed web in view of all the groups.

A Note on Forming Groups

The focus of this learning task is on building an argument using evidence. This skill is accomplished through the use of cooperative structures which use discussion as an oral rehearsal for producing a written argument. So groups should be structured in a way to provide language models for students who are not as skilled in oral presentation, and to provide peer scaffolding for making meaning from a variety of non-fiction texts. See “Creating Mixed Instructional Groups” for more information on forming cooperative groups for activities such as this.

Cooperative Learning Strategies

Mixed ability instructional groups can provide peer scaffolding for comprehension, oral language and team building.

 

Having students assign team roles is helpful for all ages of student. Roles that will be helpful for this task include a time keeper, a recorder, a task master, and a materials manager. Some teachers add an encourager, wordsmith or illustrator, when working with groups of five. A wordsmith might be helpful when working with science texts.

The Discussion Frame: A Comprehension Tool

When posed with a provocative issue, students will quickly decide what their stance is on the issue. This is problematic, for several reasons:

  1. Their quick response is often based on emotion, misconception, or a limited amount of (often “popular”) information about the topic;
  2. Once committed to a view, it is difficult to persuade students of another viewpoint, even if their own turns out to be in error;
  3. The highest quality arguments anticipate alternative viewpoints, and prepare evidence to address these views ahead of time.

So, when using a discussion frame, students must use the text available to gather evidence both in agreement with and opposed to the central view or argument. Only when the teacher approves their evidence, is a group allowed to proceed to deciding on a stance on the issue. In this way, their view is more well-informed, has considered multiple possible views, and is prepared to address any dissenting views with appropriate evidence.

building an argument using evidence

 

The Discussion Frame: A Cooperative Learning Tool

Each group should receive the appropriate text materials (which, ideally, have been previewed by the teacher for their appropriateness for the task), as well as a copy of the discussion frame. If possible, enlarge to frame on 10” x 13” paper, to enable the whole group to more easily see the chart.

In the center of the discussion frame, have students write the statement: “Hibernation is simply a type of deep sleep.” (NOTE: When using discussion frames, using a declarative statement as the argument provokes more discourse than a question, which can lead to “yes” and “no” responses.).

You may print out the hibernation discussion frame, or the blank discussion frame, and edit as desired.

Provide students with enough non-fiction resources (ideally, previewed by the teacher for their appropriateness for the task), for all groups to have an assortment of reference materials to complete both the “Evidence to Support” and “Evidence to Refute” sides of the frame. They may use their concept web as a starting place for their research (as they will need to find evidence to support (or not) the ideas they have on the web. Remind students that they are NOT to take a stance until you approve their research.

building an argument using evidence

As a means of monitoring groups’ progress, pass out three colored index cards to each group: one pink, one yellow, one green. Prior to the groups beginning their discussions, instruct students to use the cards to indicate how their work is going: green if things are going well, yellow if they need clarification or some guidance, and pink if they are confused, or have reached an impasse in their team work. Periodically during the discussion period, use questioning to elicit a response from teams. Here are some examples of questions you might use:

  • [Before beginning]: “Show me with your cards how well you understand the task I have given you.”
  • [During discussion]: “Ok – just checking in. Use your cards to show me how well the team roles are going.”
  • [During discussion]: “Can I have your attention for a moment? Just doing a time check – use your cards to show me how close you are to finding evidence for both sides of the argument: green if you could stop now, yellow if you need a few more minutes to finish up, pink if you think you have a long way to go still.”
  • [After discussion]: “Ok – before we debrief: use your cards to show me how comfortable you are with the stance you have taken, how well you think you can defend it with the evidence you have. Green if you are confident, yellow if you think you have a good case, but could use some feedback, pink if you know that you need more or better evidence.”

Debrief

As students are winding down their discussions, pass word to each group, via the task manager, that each group should be taking a stance, based on their evidence, and that they should indicate what they feel are the three strongest pieces of evidence to support their stance (they do not need to write their argument at this time – just choose their evidence).

Begin by asking for a show of hands indicating whether the groups believed that hibernation was a kind of sleep, or not. Then ask groups to share what they thought were the most significant pieces of evidence. Project an image of the discussion frame, and record these pieces of evidence for all to see.

If time allows, discuss any evidence they recorded which they determined wasn’t strong or supporting evidence, and talk about why they decided so.

Return to the concept web, and invite students to revise their thinking about what hibernation is, and isn’t. Record changes to the chart in a different color.

 

building an argument using evidence

Photo credit: (c) Gilles San Martin, 2010 via Creative Commons

 

Possible Follow-up Tasks for Individual Student Research & Response

  1. Create a written argument, using the information on the discussion frame
  2. Conduct further research on any evidence which seems controversial or contradictory (e.g., black bears do not reach a coma-like state – are they true hibernators?)
  3. Conduct further research on one of the hibernation-like states (torpor, estivation, etc.)
  4. Create a double bubble map comparing hibernation and sleep
  5. Investigate the hibernation habits of an animal species of student’s choice, indicating specific environmental triggers and the animal’s response to them
compare and contrast

Image credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

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Here’s the October Edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

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Welcome to the October 31, 2012 edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

I delayed publishing for a few days, as I know many of my readers have been struggling with weather-related issues, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the Superstorm that followed. I pray that all are safe and sound and back to full power soon, if not today.

Thank you for participating in the October Edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

 

Changing Seasons

Kim Bennett presents Signs of Autumn: Our Trip to the Orchard posted at A Child’s Garden, saying, “We took the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful autumn day and pick some tasty apples, in the process! We could have filed this under “Fruits and Seeds,” too.”

 

Fruits and Seeds

The Bennett family then follows up with Two Easy Apple Experiments posted on Squidoo, saying, “This lens was an extension of our apple orchard field trip (see “A Child’s Garden”), and was fun to do for some “kitchen counter science.”"

 

Potpourri

freelee presents “Be a Backyard Scientist” posted at 52 Days to Explore, saying, “Botany, biology and other sciences in the back yard with simple items you may have.”

That concludes this edition. Thank you to all participants! Each submission earns a free copy of “Autumn Leaves: A Plant Study,” a 23-page science journaling e-Book for studying fall leaves.

Submit your blog article to the November edition of Simple Science Strategies using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


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Cause and Effect: Using a Multi-Flow Map in a Science Center

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Why Study Cause and Effect?

Scientific investigation and experimentation is all about connecting things. In  order for students to connect two events, or a treatment and its effects, students have to understand that things stay the same, unless acted upon by something else, and that things have the ability to change the behavior of other things.

Understanding cause and effect is central to scientific thinking and exploration. Photo Credit: Alastros Oistros, 2005, via Creative Commons

Understanding cause and effect is a complex skill, involving many subskills:

  • Direct observation of objects and their attributes
  • Observation of objects through the use of simple tests and tools
  • Connection of two events
  • Making predictions based on facts, observations and past experiences
  • Evaluation of the probability and possibility of past and future events, based on observations, the body of scientific knowledge and past experiences
  • Understanding and communication of scientific ideas in words, diagrams and writing
  • Understanding causality and correlation

In short, the understanding of cause and effect, and communication about it, is at the heart of scientific experimentation and investigation.

Tools for Communication Cause and Effect

David Hyerle has established a system of eight Thinking Maps to organize thinking around distinct cognitive processes. One of these maps, the Multi-Flow Map, is specifically created, by the learner, to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships. (Please click on the link, below, for resources prepared by Wappinger Central School District, in Fishkill, New York, for teaching about the Multi-Flow Map and using it with students:

The Multi-Flow Map

The Multi-Flow Map: useful for demonstrating an understanding of cause and effect relationships.

Using a Multi-Flow Map in the Classroom

This month, we have been using some typical October events to teach questioning:

  • the formation of fruits and seeds from flowers
  • fall color development
  • bird migration
  • changes in the weather

Here are some ways that you could use a multi-flow map in a science center, to provide independent practice in showing cause and effect. Provide the object identified, blank observations sheets and the directions for making a multi-flow map (see the link, above). Leave “cue cards” with the words “What happened here?” and “What will happen next?” Provide a basket for completed work, or create a class bulletin board for students to combine all their thinking into a classroom display (use different colored cards for causes, the event, and effects, and connect with string — leave a stapler at the bulletin board to facilitate student independence).

Fruit and Seed formation

  • an apple with a poke in the side
  • a cut or bitten apple that has begun to discolor
  • an apple with a bruise or rotten spot
  • a photograph of a chipmunk with full cheek pouches
  • a photograph of a blue jay with an acorn in its beak

Fall color formation

  • a branchlet with leaves in different stages of color development
  • a skeletonized leaf
  • a leaf with scorched leaf margins
  • a leaf with sooty mold, powdery mildew, or leaf spot
  • a leaf with insect galls

Bird migration

  • a photograph of geese in V-formation
  • a photograph of blackbirds congregating near a feeder
  • a photograph of vultures climbing a thermal
  • a photograph of goldfinches or other bird in transition plumage

Weather changes

  • a photograph of flooding after Hurricane Sandy
  • a photograph of a tree on downed power lines
  • a photograph of houses collapsed on a beach after a hurricane
  • a photograph of a person chopping wood
  • a photograph of wood smoke coming from a chimney
  • a photograph of  a pile of student jackets on the playground

A Note About Centers

Whenever possible, use real objects, and any relevant tools, instead of photographs or pictures. When photographs or pictures are used, make them relevant to the students. For example, after our experiences with Hurricane Sandy,  I would photograph downed trees or flooding in my town, or the school’s flooded playground, instead of another location. Always use whatever has the most meaning to your students.

Use available, familiar items whenever designing independent learning centers. Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2011

 

 

 

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Question-Answer Relationships in Science

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What are QARs?

Has this happened to you, as a teacher?

Student B (age 9, 12 or 18… it doesn’t matter) sits with a scientific editorial, and an essay assignment. The prompt asks him, “Does the author believe that nuclear power is a benefit to society, or a danger? Use evidence from the editorial to answer your question.” At the end of class, the student turns in a blank paper: “I don’t know what to write — it didn’t say.” Sigh.

Researchers developed the concept of QARs, or Question-Answer Relationships, to help students understand that there is a relationship between the type of question asked, and the place the student goes to find the information to answer the question. By quickly determining the type of question, the student is better able to figure out how to answer the question.

Types of Questions

Reading response questions fall into four categories, based on where the reader must go to find the answer:

  1. “Right There” Questions
  2. “Search and Find Out” Questions
  3. “Author and Me” Questions
  4. “On My Own” Questions

If students can learn to identify the hallmarks of each type of question, then they can more quickly determine what they have to do in order to craft the appropriate response. Here is a general overview of the categories of questions:

Right There Questions

  • assess literal comprehension: there is little need to think beyond the text in order to answer
  • the answer is readily identifiable directly in the text (e.g., a definition, a specific fact, a quote)
  • tend to be lower Bloom’s levels (because the reader merely has to identify or locate the answer)
  • are text dependent: the reader cannot answer the question without reading the text
  • may include the words, “according to the text”
  • may include the question words, “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” or “how.”
  • may contain words in bold print
  • Example: “What is an igneous rock?

(c) gregw66, 2011 via Creative Commons

Search and find out questions

  • assess literal comprehension
  • the answer is identifiable in the text, but the reader must read through a more extended portion of the text to find all the parts (e.g., several reasons, multiple steps)
  • involve more summary and extrapolation, so are higher than “Right There” questions, but still lower level questions
  • are text dependent
  • may also include the words, “according to the text” and the question words “who-what-where-when-how”
  • Example: “What are the three major kinds of rocks? Explain how each is formed.

(c) gregw66 (2011), Jonathan Wilkens and Ken Lund (2010) via Creative Commons

Author and me questions

  • assess inferential comprehension
  • are text-dependent (the reader must have read the text in order to answer), but cannot be answered with the text, alone
  • involve interpretation and reflection, so are higher order
  • may include the words, “why,” “in your opinion,” “you,” or “use evidence from the text to explain your thinking.”
  • Example: “Find five rocks outside. Use the table on page 5 to classify them as igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary, and explain what characteristics helped you decide.”

(c) 2008, Gwen and James Anderson via Creative Commons

On my own questions

  • are not text-dependent: the reader does not have to have read the text at all to answer the question
  • involve connections to personal experiences
  • can vary in Bloom’s level, depending on the question
  • may include the words, “you/your,” “think of a time,” “when have you,” or “have you ever.”
  • Example: “List ten things in your school or schoolyard that are made from rock.”

(c) Kim M. Bennett, 2011

The Reading Lady has an excellent overview of QARs in .pdf form. It’s thirteen pages long, and includes planning sheets for teachers to plan different levels of questions for a lesson, or to classify the kinds of questions at the end of the chapter (so you can add others that are lacking). It also includes organizers for students to classify or create their own questions for each level — a very powerful task for student learning.

QARs in Science

The above examples show how QARs can be used to help students make sense of science texts. The Tantasqua School District (Massachusetts) has developed examples of how QARs can be used in other content areas – very useful for supporting literacy across content areas.

But can we use the same levels of thinking in non-text-based tasks? What would that look like?

Let’s go back to the original levels, and what they stand for:

  1. Level 1 (Right There): just reporting the proper information
  2. Level 2 (Search and Find Out): the information is there, but you have to work to get it
  3. Level 3 (Author & Me): you process the information based on your own thought and experiences
  4. Level 4 (On My Own): only your experiences are needed

Here is a suggestion for encouraging these four levels of thinking, even when text is not used. This is helpful thinking, for working with struggling readers who are not struggling thinkers, for making grade-level content accessible to students with disabilities, for making input comprehensible to students who are second language learners, and for ensuring overall rigor of thinking for all students.

Level 1 (Right There) questions

  • Involve direct observation using the five senses

Some data can be directly observed, using the 5 senses. (c)  lara604, 2011 via Creative Commons

Level 2 (Search and find out) questions

  • Involve indirect observation
  • Involve using text resources, simple tests and simple tools to gather additional data not directly observable
  • Involve knowing that some data cannot be directly observed

Simple tools and tests can be used to gather more information. (c) 2012, Kim M. Bennett

Level 3 (Author & Me) Questions

  • Involve extending beyond the observations to possible causes and effects
  • Involve applying prior learning and knowledge to new observations
  • Involve prediction based on knowledge and present data

Level 4 (On My Own) questions

  • Involve generalizing to the real world
  • Involve establishing relevancy and real-life connection

Comparing the new with the known, the student generalizes to similar observations and experiences. (c) Alastros Oistros, 2005 via Creative Commons

Fostering Thinking…

To help organize students’ thinking at these four levels, I created a simple reporting sheet that can be used with many types of science tasks, from experiments, to outdoor observations, to science centers. I also made a companion sheet for using QARs with text-based tasks, in science or any other content area. Click on the image to download a copy.

QARs for Science: an Organizer for Download

QARs: an Organizer for Download

For More Information…

For more information on strategies to help foster literacy in science, see 50 Instructional Routines to Develop Content Literacy. From some of the best-known authors in the field comes a book that provides all middle and high school teachers with practical information about improving students’ reading, writing, and oral language development. Every teacher needs to use instructional routines that allow students to engage in all of these literacy processes. Classroom examples from science, social studies, English, math, visual and performing arts, and core electives ensure that all middle and high school teachers can effectively integrate literacy instruction into their lesson delivery. Click on the link (above) or the image (below) for ordering information.

50 Instructional Routines to Develop Content Literacy, $27.60 from Barnes & Noble.

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Indirect Measurement: Color and Bird Feeding

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Learning Focus:

Essential Questions –

  • What is the relationship between color and bird feeding behavior?
  • How do you quantify something that you can’t measure yourself?

Enduring Understandings –

  • Treatment effects can be measured using both direct and indirect means.

Focus for This Task:

  • Focus Strategy: Indirect Measurement
  • Targeted Skill: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Key Concepts: Cause and Effect
  • Core Ideas: Biological Evolution

The Learning Task:

Designing the Investigation:

  • Problem Statement: Does the color of a bird feeder affect bird feeding behavior?
  • Null Hypothesis: The color of the bird feeder has no effect on bird feeding behavior.
  • Alternative Hypothesis: The color of the bird feeder does affect bird feeding behavior.

 Do you think that the birds will eat from one color feeder more than the other? Why or why not? Which color, if either, do you think will attract birds the most? How will you know?

Materials Used:

  • two identical pie pans
  • construction paper (one sheet of green, one sheet of red) [You can use more than two colors with older students; make sure one of them is red.]
  • scissors
  • mixed bird seed (or seed of your choice)
  • 1-cup measuring cup

Procedure:

  1. Trace the bottom of the pie pan onto each sheet of construction paper; cut out the two construction paper circles.
  2. Place one circle inside the bottom of each pie pan.
  3. Measure one cup of mixed bird seed into each pie pan, making sure to push the seeds to one side to expose the color at the bottom of the pie pan.
  4. Place the pie pans on the ground in a place where birds frequently come to visit and feed.
  5. After 2 days, bring the pie pans inside. Measure the seed in each pan using a measuring cup.

 See the photo gallery, below, for questions to ask while conducting this investigation.

Results:

  • Record your results using a data table.

How would you set up your data table? What would be the column headers? What would be the row labels? What data would you put in the body of the table? How might you order the data? Why?

Key Vocabulary:

  • dependent, independent variable
  • direct, indirect measurement
  • scientific method
  • experiment
  • data
  • measurement
  • observation

Follow-up:

  • Did you use direct measurement or indirect measurement to determine the effects of color on bird feeding behavior? Explain.
  • What would be other direct ways of measuring your treatment effect? What would be other indirect methods?
  • What other factors might have influenced the results of your experiment? How could you change the experiment to eliminate these factors?
  • Could you change your procedure to more accurately measure your treament affect? How?

Grade-Level Considerations:

Pre-K/K:

Students who are very young are learning that objects have properties, some which can be observed directly, using their senses, others which can be determined using simple tools and tests. The focus for them is on honing their observational skills, and exploring measurement.

When conducting this experiment with little ones, ask them questions, like the ones below.

  • Which color do you think will attract more birds? Why?
  • What did you notice about the birds feeding?
  • Which feeder has more seed? How can we figure it out?
  • Why do we measure things?
  • If you were a bird, which feeder would you go to? Why?
  • What do you think would happen if we changed the color of the feeders? Why?

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Grades 1/2:

As students enter the primary grades, they are learning that all living things have basic needs, in order to survive. They  begin to notice and can explain the connection between the behaviors of living things and their need for food and water. They are becoming more adept at the use of tools to investigate their world, and are learning to select the appropriate measurement tool for a given situation.

Simple experiments give primary grade students an opportunity to design and carry out fair tests to to investigate their world, and to practice recording their observations in various ways. As they work , ask students questions like the ones below:

  • Which color attracted birds more? Why might this be?
  • How could you figure out which feeder the birds preferred? What measurement tool would you need? Is there another way you could measure this?
  • If you wanted to find out if different colors attracted different birds, how would you change this experiment? Work with a partner to design this new experiment.
  • Use pictures, words and numbers to show the results of your experiment.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Grades 3/4:

Children who are moving through the elementary grades are exploring the relationships between and interdependence of living and non-living things in the environment. They are beginning to understand that some behaviors of living things make them better adapted for their living conditions — that there is an underlying purpose behind the way that plants and animals respond to their environment. They are also moving beyond concrete to representational, and are using symbols and visuals to show ideas.

If this investigation is conducted with elementary grade students, ask them questions like the ones, below:

  • If this were a different environment (city, desert, beach), would you expect different results? Why or why not?
  • What other factors (environment, human activities, etc.) might have influenced the results of this experiment? Explain.
  • Draw a diagram showing the way you set up your experiment. Include a caption, and clearly label important parts of the feeding station.
  • Re-design this experiment, including a direct method of measuring the effects of color on bird feeding behaviors, in place of the method in this activity.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Grades 5/6:

Students in the middle grades are honing their skills as scientists, and learning to evaluate the validity of experimental methods and claims. Their experiments should focus on evaluating and selecting from among various experimental methods. They can be expected to produce more sophisticated arguments and presentations, based on data and resources.

When conducting this experiment with older elementary students, consider the following adaptations:

  • Measure the effects of color on bird feeding behaviors using the following measurement methods: weight of seeds before and after feeding period; number of feeding visits per feeder, during feeding period; average length of feeding visit per bird, during feeding time.
  • Which measurement method most accurately measured the effect of color on bird feeding behavior? Support your claim using results from your experiment.
  • Find an article online that discusses color and bird feeding. Summarize your findings in your report.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Suggested Resources:

 

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