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Short Can Be Great!

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A science lesson doesn’t have to take 40 minutes or even several sessions of 40 minutes. It needs to be focused on the science you’re presenting, be interesting, and, of course, be fun! I’m teaching inertia and gravity in a fifth grade classroom. Between my 40 minute classes I want to keep students interested and talking about the topic. I could use a few short demonstrations to review or reinforce inertia and gravity.

Exploratorium logoDo you have a meter stick? Try this Center of Gravity demonstration. Do you have a large glob of clay to add to the meter stick? Try this Balancing Stick demonstration. How about a bunch of blocks (or leftover books)? Try the Take It from the Top activity.

All three activities are simple, use common supplies, and are described (some with videos) at the Exploratorium Museum’s Science Snacks web site. In just a few minutes you can review science with your students. Just have some extra meter sticks handy when they want to try out the activities themselves!

the art of teaching

5 thoughts on “Short Can Be Great!

  1. Reinforcing an idea is really important if you want your students to remember it. The short reinforcements over a period of time put the information into long-term memory. If they just see it once, in the 40-minute lesson, it will be in short term memory and then, probably, gone. I’ve also been told that students remember best what they hear first and last, so make good use of beginning and ending of school moments to quickly reinforce an important idea. For instance, in Barbara’s inertia lesson you could ask for an exit slip (out-the-door slip) on which they draw an example of either inertia or gravity (forcing them to consider each before they choose) and hand it to you to get out of the classroom at the end of the day.

    1. Your suggestion for using an exit slip can be a great way to collect quick information. Exit slips can be used for a variety of purposes. Here’s a short article with suggestions for four different prompts that you might use with your science class

    1. Thanks for the question!

      The Exploratorium is a GREAT museum in San Francisco with all hands-on exhibits. We recently visited and spent a Thursday evening (with adults only) going from exhibit to exhibit trying out amazing activities. Everyone had a lot of fun! For more information, please visit their website.

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