Sifting Through Science
Written by Laura Lowell and Carolyn
There's a reason toddlers explore everything they can get their
hands on! Sensory input is at the heart of early learning; even
at its most primitive, it manifests the drive toward scientific
This elegant physical-science unit in the GEMS series takes
full advantage of the natural curiosity of young children to
present the means and allow the time for exploration of objects
and their properties.
Three free-exploration learning stations build to a concluding
whole-class activity in which students directly apply what they
have learned. Mathematics is integrated throughout; graphing
and other data analysis deepen the learning. Students investigate
material properties, including those of materials that sink
or float; magnetic and nonmagnetic objects; and a sand-and-bean
mixture whose elements can be sifted and separated. Each student
is given a mini garbage dump (actually a cup containing salt,
sand, metal, and wax) and challenged to separate the contents
using acquired knowledge and the tools and techniques they have
practiced in the previous activities. Along the way, the children
discuss their work in the significant, real-life context of
recycling and the environment.
This unit makes a nice connection to the GEMS guides
and Treasure Boxes.
Comment on this GEMS unit.