Hi, everyone! Happy Sunday. I hope you are all having a restful and productive weekend thus far. Tomorrow, Monday, March 5th will be the official launch of the 2018 Science Fair season for all of my classes. On that day, all four of my classes will have started their projects that will be presented on April 23rd during a collaborative Science Fair and Earth Day celebration. This week, I reflect and discuss on the four projects that my students are currently engaged in. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions or comments!

6th Grade – Endangered Species Tour

My 6th Grade Science Fair project was inspired by a trip I took in January 2017 to Biomuseo in Panama City. More specifically, I was inspired a very simple exhibit, The Gallery of Biodiversity, that was composed of various plaques with details of various species of their conservation status. Their status was color coded so that warmer colored plaques (reds and oranges) were more threatened of extinction while cooler colors (yellows and greens) were less threatened or not at all. While my students will not be doing a project reminiscent of this, like I said, it was certainly inspiration.

My students will be put into groups of 3 or 4 and assigned a country widely known to have a high abundance of endangered species. From there, they will research six IUCN listed species whose range includes their assigned country. Students main source for research will be the wonderfully informative World Wildlife Fund. They will record information such as the conservation status, life cycle, diet, adaptations, reasons for population decline and efforts meant to combat those trends.

Additionally, they will also do some basic research on the country assigned to them. They will take note of average climate throughout the year, cultural sights, sounds, and smells, and travel requirements for U.S. citizens.

The final product will blend their animal and country research together in the form of a travel agency promoting an eco-tour of the regions in which their endangered animals can be found. For the science fair, students will advertise and market their tours to the audience using Google’s Tour Builder and advertisement flyers designed on the web-based tool, Canva.

7th Grade – Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Cities is an engaging project in which students are a mixture of urban planner, engineers, and ecologists. After an in-depth review of non-renewable and renewable energy sources, students are put into the role of designers of a brand new sustainable city development. Now in my third run of facilitating this project with 7th graders, I have decided to add some new collaborative elements special to this year’s science fair. After a productive discussion with my science teaching parter, who teacher the other half of 7th grade, we decided to form a collaborative dynamic between the two classes. My teaching partner’s class is currently preparing for the science fair by conducting group research and experimentation on various earth science topics (glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc). My groups of students will be assigned various country in which their sustainable city will be developed thereby limiting their options on which types of energy sources they can use. For example, students based in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona will have a wonderful time utilizing solar energy but have a harder time utilizing hydropower. Those based, say, in the Olympic Peninsula will see virtually the opposite. Starting tomorrow, groups from either class will be paired together dependent on both group’s country / earth science assignment. The group assigned to research glaciers will be paired with my group who has been assigned Iceland as their home country due to the high presence of glacial features in the country. Those based in Guatemala will partner up with the group researching volcanoes and earthquakes because of the abundance of such phenomena in the Central American country.

For the science fair, groups will build a model city (think scaled down to humans = Godzilla) highlighting both their measures to become 100% sustainable along with the geological and topographical features found in that world region.

10th Grade – Genetic Diseases

After some stressful (for the students) lessons and a big test on Mendelian genetics, my 10th graders are ready to begin their science fair projects. I was having a tough time developing ideas for a project, but a quick discussion with my teaching partner put me in the right direction. My inspiration for this project initially came from the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book series, believe it or not. Students are in groups of three and have been assigned a set a five chromosomes found in the human body. The first step for them is to read the chapters respective of their chromosome assignment of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. The book beautifully breaks down each of the 23 chromosomes in detailed, scientifically-accurate chapters. Second, students will the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Chromosome Map to discover what diseases could result from either inheritance or mutations on each assigned chromosome. While the plan is still very much in the early stages, students will create a CYOA-type presentation to engage the audience of the science fair. The audience will be provided a healthy chromosome in which they are then presented with multiple scenarios to choose from. Depending on which route they choose, they could end up with a mutation that encodes for a specific disease found on that chromosome. From there, and if the disease is contracted, they are then to decide how to proceed with each step providing multiple scenarios to choose from. When will I see a doctor? How is the disease diagnosed? What treatment or medicine do I need to take? What are the side effects of that treatment? What happens if I do not treat the disease? Students will be given the choice of how to present the CYOA story to give them some extra freedom.

11th/12th – 3D Printed Inventions

I have already had a recent blog post discussing this project so there aren’t really any new updates as of yet. Students will continue to design, redesign, and redesign again until their product is just right. This week, they will start to work on their strategies to market their product including product names, logos, and social media.

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