What Do Scientists Do?
Written by Cary I. Sneider
One of the all-time most popular GEMS
guides, Oobleck makes a joyful scientist out of every
child. Oobleck is a green, oozy substance (from "outer
space," in this fictional account) that both begs and eludes
description as it initiates students in the nature of inquiry
and definition and sparks vigorous debate about its properties.
Students begin by forming small laboratory teams to examine,
experiment with, and hypothesize about Oobleck (in truth, a
mixture of cornstarch, water, and food coloring), learning and
using the scientific vocabulary needed to describe material
properties. In the second activity, the class holds a scientific
convention to discuss experimental findings. Students then turn
engineers, and design a spacecraft that can successfully land
on an ocean of Oobleck. In the final session, the methods the
students used to analyze Oobleck are compared to those of professional
scientists, such as those working on the Mars Viking
mission. A large poster illustrating the mission is included.
Oobleck is not only a great hands-on experience for all
ages, it provides students authentic insight into the real work
Time: Four or more 20- to 45-minute sessions.
See the Oobleck: What Do Scientists Do? online
Recommends Oobleck: What Do Scientists Do?
"For years, I have been using Oobleck: What Do Scientists
Do? to introduce my science students to scientific processes
at the beginning of the school year. For the rest of the year,
they are hooked on science!
The guide is well written
and makes teaching this unit easy
I found the section
on assessment strategies to be helpful, especially because a
list of student outcomes is given
This is a messy, exciting
way to teach students how real scientists go about their scientific
explorations. I highly recommend this GEMS guide to all teachers
of students in grades 48."
National Science Teachers Association Recommends
Comment on this GEMS unit.