Thursday, 20 December 2012

Possible (if not overly successful) cycles of life

Our science topic to finish off the year was life cycles.  The curriculum standard says 'living things have life cycles' which is pretty explicit wonderfully broad and allowed for plenty of creativity in our classroom learning programme. We looked at both a conceptual understanding of life cycles and an experiential understanding with several live examples in the classroom.

Our investigation took us from the ubiquitous butterfly through silkworms, frogs, chickens and humans to peas, beans and sunflowers. We drew life cycles, we labelled life cycles, we wrote about life cycles, we created life cycle art and we observed life cycles.

We tried to hatch silkworms from eggs. Tried. And for about three hours were mildly successful: three eggs hatched and for a very brief period we were able to watch the tiniest caterpillars any of us had ever seen munch away (on the mulberry leaves my husband delivered upon taking my frantic "one's hatched!" phone call) before they curled up and dropped off the mortal coil.  Whilst not the most effective of demonstrations in terms of life cycles, it was a great opportunity to discuss science as a human endeavour and the scientific inquiry process. Not all experiments succeed - and that outcome is, in itself, a result to be analysed and evaluated.

For some reason everyone loved handling them.
Kinda creeped me out though!
We also kept mealworms, with limited success. My research lead me to believe that mealworms are SUPER EASY to keep and will change into meal beetles within three weeks. They are, but they didn't. Term finished a week ago but I'm still waiting. If you live in Adelaide and want to go fishing anytime soon, look me up: I've got bait for you!

It wasn't all doom and gloom though. One of the other classes in our school was incubating chicken eggs. We kept track of those and were there to see the chicks the day they hatched.

Planting the peas.
We planted peas and whilst didn't have time to watch them through to flowering, we did watch them right through germination.

We planted the peas in empty CD cases. As they germinated we were able to see both the roots as they moved downwards and the shoots as they grew upwards.We set them in the window to grow, the case acted as a mini glasshouse and we saw AMAZINGLY quick growth.

The children took great pride in the growth of 'their' pea and went to great efforts to keep them watered. (Removing the CD insert leaves a narrow empty band on one side of the case which enables watering with a pipette/syringe.)

Looking out of our window.

Looking in our window.

Day 1.

Day 21.

Check out this pin to see where I found the idea.  (Loooove Pinterest!)

The culminating activities for this unit of work were a double page spread magazine article (for a local science magazine for children) and a whole class game show. I have to say... I think I learnt almost as much about life cycles as the children did.

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