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Exploring Science

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Ft Worth I.S.D (21st CCLC Dunbar 6th Grade)

Sue Matkin/Cynthia Houston-Brown

100 North University Drive Suite 232NE
Fort Worth, TX 76107



Activity Description

This science class does experiments inside the lab and also outside the building. It is a more advanced class than they have during the school day. The specific activity the students have been doing involves studying Mars and the current investigations that NASA is conducting.

Number of Students Involved in This Activity: Eighteen

Range of Student Ages: Eleven to twelve

Duration of Activity: Two and a half hours per week

Relevant Contextual or Demographic Information: No

Academic ContentWhat is the academic content of this activity? Science
Students research and write a report on Mars and the recent NASA investigation of Mars. This requires them to use science and literacy skills. The material discussed goes beyond what the students learn in their standard science classrooms and gives students a better understanding of what scientists do. The activity involves specific scientific inquiry and allows students to see themselves as scientists.

Strong RelationshipsHow does this activity create strong relationships?
The students are working together in groups for the presentation pieces of the project. They will learn how to work within a group to get things accomplished. Relationships will be the main key and factor for this project to work. Each person in a group is responsible for his or her share of the project. The students learn how to work within a diverse group of people. They build relationships through teamwork while striving for a common goal. That goal is a succesful project. They take pride in their special assignments within their group, for the group will not be successful if everyone doesn't do their part. They also take pride in their finished products, which, in this case, is their paper and presentation. How creative they become is only limited by their imagination. As the instructor, I work with all groups giving suggestions and help each student in the group develop their ideas. At times, there are one-on-one sessions, which are morale boosters sometimes when students' ideas may not be taking off quite the way they planned.

Decision MakingWhat opportunities are there for authentic decision making?
Students will take the activity another step further and present their reports to the afterschool class utilizing Microsoft® PowerPoint®. This gives them an opportunity to take charge and speak in front of their peers. The students themselves decide on what information they will develop as well as how they can best present the material. Each student makes decisions within his or her specific group assignments, and then the group as a whole votes on how to put them together. Some of the specific jobs within the groups include: graphic design specialist (in charge of the types of pictures, backgrounds, and textures used); information specialist (gathers the info on Mars); editor (revises the information and fits into the desired format of presentation), and the group manager (ensures that everyone is on task and working together and gives a daily report on the progress of the group). An extension to the lesson could be that the students also construct brochures on the recent discoveries of Mars after their presentation.

Student LeadershipWhat student leadership opportunities are there?
This gives the students the opportunity to have confidence in themselves and what they are able to accomplish. We want them to learn to work together. Teamwork is very important here at Dunbar 6th-Grade Middle School. Our Mission here is: Extraordinary Achievement: No Exceptions. No Excuses. Students have leadership roles in each of the groups and have the responsibility of performing their specific tasks.


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