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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Using Real World Situations to Assess Science Mastery

     I will be honest, I have been lucky in my last 4 years of teaching, to have had students that truly enjoy learning about science.  For the most part, they see the benefit of learning about the physical properties of matter and how water changes the Earth's surface.  If a student should ask, "how will knowing this help me in the future?" I can easily say chemists and geologists use this information in their jobs every day.

     But why should they have to wait until adulthood before they can apply this knowledge?  I want to make it a professional goal to create performance based assessments utilizing real world problems.  I started doing this last year.  STEMScopes, a curriculum developed by Rice University, has done a great job of creating problem based learning assessments for every learning standard (TEKS).  These projects include developing a recipie for lemonade to study the properties of mixtures and solutions.  My favorite is creating an advertisement to reduce deforestation in the rain forest.  

    I created my own project based on the forms and uses of energy, the MELTS.  The students were asked to design an invention that would help them complete a household chore.  The invention had to use at least three forms of energy.  Students drew the invention and labeled the forms of energy that were being used and then they had to write a paragraph explaining how the energy was being used.  I loved that the assignment combined science knowledge with creativity and the oh-so-important writing aspect.  I want to build upon this project for next year and require students to explain how energy was transformed from one form to another, for example, if the invention had to be plugged in, the student would explain how electrical energy was transformed into sound or light energy.  

   I have made this assignment available at my TPT store.  UPDATE 4/23/2014--THIS PRODUCT IS NOW FREE! Please check it out and provide feedback.

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