I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with a great team of kindergarten teachers. We were exploring the nature of STEM lessons and thinking about ways to include more STEM in the classroom. This lesson was originally planned for kindergarten students, but it would be easy to revise for older students. Check out a copy of the student page, here.
We started by making predictions to answer the question, “How cold is snow?” Younger learners often don’t have a strong sense of the numbers we use to describe temperature and making the prediction helps build this background knowledge. We used wire less Vernier Temperature probes to check the temperature of a cup full of fresh snow. Using the meter setting, students will notice that the temperature seems to keep changing. Ask groups of students how they will decide when to record the temperature. At this point, students may also have additional questions to test…Is the snow colder at the top of the cup than at the bottom? Is a snow ball colder than loose snow? Is the snow outside colder than the snow inside? The wireless temperature probes allow for these questions to be easily tested.
After establishing a basis for the temperature of snow, we push into the real STEM part of the lesson. Building a snowball keeper! Provide a set of materials for groups of students to choose from – we included different sizes of styrofoam cups, paper coffee cups, plastic cups, a variety of lids, plastic jars with lids, different types of fabric, packing peanuts, bubble wrap and tape. Working through an engineering process, groups of students can build a snowball keeper, check the initial temperature and decide where they will leave the keeper until the end of the day. As groups of students share their keepers, you may want to grab short video clips when they explain why they chose the materials or configuration they used.
There are many ways to extend this lesson based on student questions or curiosities. You’ll find possible discussion questions at the end of the student page as well. I would love to hear your comments if you test this one out in your classroom, especially if you revise for a different grade.