Student Scientists: Can you make a rainbow?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

With our Rainbow Inquiry continuing to unfold over the past month, we started noticing our Student Scientists brainstorming ways to create rainbows using a variety of materials in our classroom. From prisms held up to the window to flashlights shining through transparent coloured paddles, our students have been actively exploring their fascination and wonderings around how a rainbow is born! 

To support our students' curiousity and to help drive the momentum of our current inquiry forward, Heidi and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to introduce a simple experiment to not only help students further embrace themselves as scientists, but to help shed light on the thinking and reflection that scientists do when undergoing investigations! Keeping in mind that this learning has taken place over a series of weeks and not always with the whole group, Heidi and I have made and continue to make intentional and purposeful decisions based on our documentation of student learning.

Big Question: Can we make a rainbow?

Each group had:1 flashlight, 2 CDs, 1 prism, 1 mirror, 1 jar/tray with water, 1 piece of white paper, a Thinking Mat and markers

As a Rainbow Team, our students worked in small groups of 4-5 to see what materials would work best to make a rainbow.

Using a variety of materials, students took turns experimenting in different ways while the other members of their group looked closely for the appearance of a rainbow. 

Heidi and I circulated amongst all the groups with our iPads in hand and the camera/video ready to go to not only capture their excitement but to also record students' use of problem-solving skills, conversations, and discoveries. 

It was truly wonderful to see our student scientists work with the experiment materials in ways that we didn't anticipate and still successfully create a rainbow! I think I can speak for Heidi in saying that this elevated our excitement level ten-fold not only because of our student's "out-of-box" thinking, but also because of how well they collectively worked together by honouring each other's ideas, taking risks, and persevering when it didn't work!

To consolidate our learning, we met back on the carpet in the form of a Scientist Circle to showcase all the captured moments on our iPads. Students were so excited to see photos of their created rainbows, videos of their conversations and were eager to report on what worked and didn't work as part of their investigation in addition to what we discovered and what we still wonder about.
Moreover, after celebrating our findings that our student scientists did in fact make a rainbow, we turned to our class twitter account only to find a Kindergarten class from Thornwood Public School (@MsDuric) also experimenting and inquiring about rainbows! This took on a whole new level of excitement whereby our class was eager to ask questions and share our discoveries with them:

All in all, we were thrilled to see that our experiment brought together peer learning, science, and literacy into an authentic exploration while at the same time supporting our curriculum expectations in a meaningful 
way for our students. 

BIG IDEA: Children are curious and connect prior knowledge to new contexts in order to understand the world around them.

Overall Expectations:
1. Demonstrate an awareness of the natural and built environment through hands-on investigations, observations, questions and representations of their findings. 
2. Conduct simple investigations through free exploration, focused exploration, and guided activity, using inquiry skills (questioning, planning, predicting, observing, communicating).

Specific Expectations:
1.1 Ask questions about and describe some natural occurrences and representations (e.g. drawings, writing).
2.2 Make predictions and observations before and during investigations.
2.4 Communicate results and findings from individual and group investigations (e.g. state simple conclusions from an experiment, record ideas using pictures, numbers, and labels).
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