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Science Snippets from Fermilab's Office of Education and Public Outreach

Instructional Approaches for Sharing Science at Home

You want to guide learning for your child that is thoughtfully organized and will build upon the child's interest and ideas. It is useful to progress through a series of related activities about a topic making connections to concepts the child may already know. How is the new concept different or similar to what they already know? Where does the spark of interest in learning about something start?

Here we introduce you to two educational approaches that are well researched and well received in a formal educational setting. One is the BSCS 5E instructional model and the other is Project Based Learning. Having some concise background knowledge about these models will give you some ideas about guiding purposeful learning with children. We offer a few examples of simplified threads of activities through a sequenced topic. See the physical and life science activities in the chart.

The well-researched approach of the 5Es has had many applications for classroom organization, curriculum design and professional development. We feel it is also an effective guide for learning in informal settings at home. Simply put, the 5Es are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. Notice they are all active verbs. This is what the child would do in each stage of learning. The chart of activities we have prepared for you provides an activity to engage the children in the topic and compare it to what they know, an activity to explore the situation or concept (phenomenon) they are learning, an activity to allow the children to explain what they are thinking about the topic as they are learning, an activity to allow opportunities to elaborate upon what they learn, and lastly, an activity through which the child can evaluate what and how they are learning. These activities should elicit lots of questions, discussion, and interaction through which you will try, collaborate, research and discover together.

All downloadable activities are in PDF format.

Topic: Description of the strand: Engage: Guiding questions and a prompt activity or phenomenon Explore: An engaging, hands-on activity to explore Explain: Resources that support and allow the learner to listen, learn, and think so they can explain what they know Elaborate: Extending the learner's thinking based on their direction and probing questions of the phenomenon Evaluate: A way for the learner to communicate what they have learned and reflect on how they learned it Fermilab
Connection
: Fermilab science, programming, or related resources
"Parking Lot": Additional resources, questions, concept maps, or graphic organizers
PS 1 A. Physical Science: Studying the Unseen (Gr. 3–5) A study using probes to discover what we can't see How do we study things we can't see? Professor Astrocat's Atomic Adventure (available in Epic) Atomic Mystery Model (en Español) Mystery Boxes (en Español) Magnetic Field Lines (en Español) Claim, Evidence, Reasoning for how do we study things we can't see (en Español) How Particle Physics Discovery Works Make an Electromagnet
PS 1 B. Physical Science: Studying the Unseen (Gr. 6–8) A study using probes to discover what we can't see How do we study things we can't see? Investigating Atoms (NSTA Interactive eBook+) Atomic Mystery Model (en Español) Using Motion to Find What You Can't See (en Español) Scattering Materials Claim, Evidence, Reasoning for how do we study things we can't see (en Español) Particle Accelerators: Main Injector virtual tour Build a Lego Accelerator

Build a Cloud Chamber

PS 2. Physical Science: Measuring the Unseen A study about a sense of scale How small is small? How Much Is a Million?

Exploring Matter in Space (NSTA Interactive eBook+)

Measuring Small (en Español) Cutting Paper to Protons (en Español) Visualizing Smallest (en Español) Claim, Evidence, Reasoning for how small is small (en Español) Standard Model of Particle Physics Scale of the Universe
PS 3. Physical Science: Analyzing Data A study of patterns and data analysis How do we use patterns to study data? Force and Motion (NSTA Interactive eBook+) Exploring Force and Motion through Patterns (en Español) Periodic Motion (en Español) Sliders: Force and Motion with Energy (en Español) Claim, Evidence, Reasoning for analyzing data Science at Work Teach Engineering
LS 1. Life Science: Studying the Living World A study of how scientists study life in outdoor spaces What makes something living or non-living? Coming Soon! What can you "see" with your ears? Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon!
LS 2. Life Science: Measuring the Living World A study about measuring life in outdoor spaces. Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon!
LS 3. Life Science: Analyzing Data A study using data to make sense of the living world Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon! Coming Soon!

These references will provide greater explanation about the 5E model.
The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Origins and Effectiveness, 2006.
See pp. 33 and 34 for more detailed explanations about what the student and teacher do in each stage. It makes it clear how to be student focused.

The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Personal Reflections and Contemporary Implications, Science and Children, April/May 2014.

Coming soon: A family friendly guide and example of project based learning.