Thursday, May 1, 2014

2nd grade Water Scientists

There is a water unit in the adopted text for second graders. (The text was used to teach about the water cycle.) I decided to use UbD to plan a more thorough understanding water including how water can be reused.  (It was established early on that there is no new source of water, what we have is what we have.)    "How can water from our homes, especially the toilet be reused?"  Huge ick factor, creating great interest. (My commitment to provide experiences which broaden their horizons and empower them as scientists are underlying motives.)

As I often do, because of the information that I glean, I began with Think, Puzzle, Explore.


The girls started with learning about the scientific method, learning new vocabulary to describe the steps in our two major experiments:  1.  Can dirty water be filtered/cleaned so that it can be reused/drank?  2. How can we tell if water is evaporating from our classroom?

For experiment #1, step 1, ask a question:   Can we make this water clean?
Step 2, guess the answer:  Emily predicted yes, while Michelle predicted no.
Step 3, give a reason for your answer: Emily thought that the sand will make it.  Michelle thought that the sand would make it dirtier
Step 4, test your guess, how will you find out?  We are doing an experiment.
Step 5, Observe. Record what you see:  We poured the dirty water into the filter (paper filter, coarse and fine sand).  Water dripped through.  The dirt stayed on top. Now we have green water.
Step 6, write a sentence that tells what you found out.  E:We let the dirt settle.  The filter held the rest of the dirt.  M: We let the dirt settle.  The filter held the dirt on top.

(I transcribed their notes for those of you who don't read invented spelling.)





A mixture of dirt, sand, food coloring, and water was filtered through a coffee filter, sand and gravel several times so that, later, with a little help from activated charcoal, it appeared clear again.
One girl changed her hypothesis from no to yes.   Neither would attempt drinking it, but agreed that it could be.  (Obviously this is a simplified version of what our waste treatment plants do.  Perhaps, I will plan a tour and field trip of one next time.)

See next post for EXPERIMENT #2


  1. Kim, You have a lot of great things happening in your here: incorporating thinking strategies, developing academic language and WIDA standards, using backwards planning, understanding essential questions, not to mention teaching the scientific method. Our ELA students are so lucky to have you doing all you do. I'm guessing they had fun investigating the water cycle, too. Well done, Kim.

  2. Kim, this is a very impressive unit. I really enjoyed the authentic thinking of you and the students. I love this unit for ELA students but also think we could do this with all students. You have built great schema for the students to build upon in the years to come! Great job!