Science Centers

I'd like to focus more on science centers in my classroom. I enjoy science, but I never seem to have time for really cool science excursions, so I'm creating centers to help with this.

My focus is on using the state standards to build my activities. This way they are all on target, and I know that all of my expectations are being met.

I am also really trying to tie in lots of “print” in the form of poems, books, charts, and graphs. These will truly be literacy centers, and not just science centers. This is important to me because we have such a short time with our students and every minute counts when it comes to helping children build a desire to read.

These are some of my science centers that are "works in progress":

Land/air/water and environments

Expectations covered: Knows that life occurs on or near the surface of the Earth in land, water and air. Knows that plants and animals are found in different kids of environments and are often hidden.

Using: books, plays, stuffed animals, pictures.

Sun/Shade, day/night, light

Expectations covered: Knows the effects of sun and shade on the same object. Knows that light can pass through some objects, but cannot pass through other objects. Knows that the sky looks different during the day than it does at night. Poses questions, seeks answers, draws pictures of observations, and makes decisions using information.

Using: flash lights, books, plays, observation charts, pictures.

Seasons, day sky, night sky

Expectations covered: Knows that the position of the Sun in the sky appears to change during the day. Knows some of the objects seen in the night sky. Understands that continuous patterns occur in nature.

Using: seasonal calendars, books, poems, plays, mini-books.

Building with Different Mediums
The students will explore different concepts of build. They will build with blocks, straws, popsicle sticks and magnets.

They will document their buildings and recommend building methods to their peers.

Building with Lunch Milk Cartons
The students will explore different concepts of building with milk cartons. They will come up with strategies to build the tallest tower and create them. They will document their building methods and report to their peers.

Planting Seeds
The students will plant seeds, observe their growth and document their observations.

This can easily be done with soil, seeds and plastic cups.

The students will plants seeds in a terrarium environment. This will help them learn about how different systems can be self-sufficient. This will also give them a concrete way to observe roots, stem, leaves, and flowers.

Terrariums can be made in clean water bottles. This way each student can take one home and have a great hands on experience in science centers.

Temperatures in Different Conditions
The students will use thermometers to discover the temperature of different areas of the classroom. What’s the temperature in ice, water, air, by the computers, etc…

The temperature can be recorded on a chart and discussed as a large group after all students have been to the science center.

The students will learn about bats through books, pictures, and toys. They will learn about echolocation and nocturnal behavior.

The students will learn about spiders through books, pictures and toys. They will learn about 8 eyes, 8 legs, spinning webs and different types of spiders.

Pumpkins / Gourds
The students will learn about pumpkins through books, pictures and hands-on learning. They will explore what’s inside a pumpkin, the circumference of different pumpkins, weight of pumpkins, and sink/float activities.

Magnetic Vs. Non-Magnetic
The students will learn what materials are magnet through the use of discovery bottles, toys and books.

To create magnetic vs. non-magnetic bottles, fill a bottle ½ full of sand, add nails, pins, pipe cleaners, paperclips, toys, cotton balls or other small items. Provide the children with magnets and see if they are attracted.

The students will learn about sound through music, books, and creating instruments.

Several easy instruments can be made by children in science centers. Some are: rubber band cups (place a rubber band over a cup and pluck), maracas (fill bottles with rice, beans, seeds, or nuts and shake), and box banjos (get small boxes and rubber bands – let the children test if different boxes and bands make different sounds).

Push / Pull
The students will learn about push and pull on different objects.Provide students with toys cars, balls, toy wagons, and other objects that require a push or pull to move. Have the children sort them into groups, and test which take a bigger push or pull.

Cold / Ice

The students will learn about the effect of cold / ice on different items. What’s the effect of ice on water, toys, crayons, and other items found in a classroom? Sort them into items that changed, and items that did not change.

Rocks, Clay, Sand, Soil, Mud
In these science centers the students will learn about the different properties of rocks, clay, sand, soil and mud. The children can use discovery bottles to help in this exploration.

To make a sand bottle, add sand and water. Watch how it settles.

To make a mud bottle, add ½ cup of dirt, 2/3 full of water. (Soil from different locations acts differently)

Beach, Desert, Ocean, and other Terrains
The students will learn about different terrains. The children can use discovery bottles to help in this exploration along with pictures, toys and books.

To make a beach bottle, mix sand and shells.

To make a desert bottle place plastic animals, sand, and cactus together.

To make an ocean bottle fill the bottle ½ full of mineral oil, ½ full of water, and a few drops of food coloring.

Effect of the Sun on Earth
The students will explore shadows on the surface of the Earth by using a globe and flashlight. They will also explore how different parts of the Earth are warm and others cold.

Day Time Sky

The students will study the day-time sky through books, pictures and observations. They will create 3D “day” pictures with magazines, clay, and other resources.

Night Time Sky
The students will study the night-time sky through books, pictures and observations. They will create 3D “night” pictures with magazines, clay, and other resources.

The students will learn about insects through books, pictures and real insects.

The children will help collect dead insects in the weeks before this lesson. They will be placed into water bottles with cotton balls for observation purposes. They will learn about the parts of an insect’s body and living habitats in these science centers.

Living Vs. Non-Living
The students will explore the idea that there are living and non-living things on Earth. They will use discovery bottles, pictures and books.

Camouflage bottles
The students will learn about camouflage through books, pictures and discovery bottles.

In your science centers you can create camouflage bottles by placing many items that are the same color into a bottle. You can also make non-examples with several items that are the same color and then one item that isn’t.

Life Cycles
The students will learn about life cycles through the life cycle of a butterfly. They will have the opportunity to watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. They will learn about the stages the butterfly goes through and will document the stages.

Paper Vs. Plastic
The students will learn about recycling and how most communities recycle paper and plastic items. The children will sort materials for recycling and create recycling posters to hang around the school.

5 Senses
The students will learn about the 5 senses. To do this the children will use books, pictures and discovery bottles.

Touch: Put cotton balls or small toys into the bottles and have children grasp and pull out.

Sight: Fill a bottle with corn syrup, add google eyes. Watch!

Smell: Poke holes in bottle and add potpourri. Smell.

Hearing: Put rice, beans, water, etc. in bottle. Wrap in a sock and shake. What’s that sound?

I'm storing the science centers in huge 2 1/2 gallon zip top bags in a laundry basket.

I have found that laundry baskets come in so handy in the classroom that I always seem to have an extra one laying around.

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