How to Teach with Science Stations

Engage, Learn, Plan, Science
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Science stations let kids explore concepts with their peers. Traveling from center to center, they hit multiple concepts in a short period of time, use inquiry, and make generalizations.

Enjoy Teaching with Science Stations

Ms. Sneed Tries Science Stations

Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, was feeling bogged down. “My schedule is so tight,” she moaned. “When can I teach science?”

Her teammate, Mr. Frank, felt her pain. “Wait, you forgot the part where the science series doesn’t correlate with the standards.”

“And the activities are lame,” added their mentor, Mrs. Brown.

“You know what I’d like to try?” asked Ms. Sneed. “Science stations.”

Hit the Standards

“That sounds like fun,” Mr. Frank replied, but how will we hit the standards?”

“We’ve been working on deconstructing standards and using backward design,” said Mrs. Brown. “Let’s try to use this energy standard as a springboard to your sound stations:

4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

“That’s really broad,” Ms. Sneed commented. She sat down at her computer and began to type. “With a little research, I find that kids in fourth grade normally learn how sound travels, as well as about amplitude, pitch, conductors and insulators.”

“That should cover it,” said Mr. Frank. “What do you think about taking it one notch higher? They could explore the differences in how sound travels through solids, liquids, and gases.”

“Perfect. We can hit six different concepts in 90 minutes. The following day we’ll reinforce concepts with selected videos. Then we’ll review and assess. Great! A one-week sound mini unit!”

Ask Targeted Questions

The teachers decided that their sound stations would focus on six questions:

  • What Is Sound?
  • How Does Sound Travel?
  • What Is Amplitude?
  • What Is Pitch?
  • Which Materials Conduct and Insulate Sound?
  • Does Sound Travel Better Through Solids, Liquids, or Gases?

Use Simple, Everyday Materials

“Let’s take turns with the materials so we can save time,” Ms. Sneed said.

Over the next few days, the teachers created inquiry-based lab sheets and gathered simple, everyday objects. They placed materials for each station in a separate labeled bag.

Science stations use simple, everyday materials.

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Arrange Science Stations Around Perimeter of Room

The following week, they were ready. Ms. Sneed was the first to set up stations. She wanted her students to rotate around the perimeter of the room. Therefore, she strategically placed materials at tables, on counters, and even on her own desk.

Rotate Groups Through Science Stations

After explaining the process to her students, each group headed to a different station. Every ten to fifteen minutes, Ms. Sneed rang a bell, and the groups rotated to the next station.

When you teach with science stations, kids are truly engaged. They can use inquiry and make generalizations.

Following the directions on their lab sheets, kids plucked, shouted, clapped, and blew. Engagement was at an all time high. Ms. Sneed’s eyes twinkled. This was teaching magic!

Make Generalizations

At each station, individual students recorded observations and made generalizations. Using inquiry, they discovered scientific concepts on their own.

When students use hands-on science stations, generalizations can be recorded on lab sheets.

As the students completed their last station, Ms. Sneed exclaimed, “We may be using science stations all year long!” Her class cheered.

Enjoy Teaching

Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.

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