Spring Lesson Plan #2: Grade 4 to 7 (Art of Observation and Inquiry)

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Description

Art of Observation and Inquiry

  This lesson provides students with the opportunity to develop and enhance the valuable skill of scientific inquiry. This investigation involves gathering, recording and communicating observations for a chosen animal. Through this process, students gain an in-depth understanding of their chosen animal - from investigating specific adaptations and behaviors to making inferences about the animal’s life history and beyond. Students will be challenged to think critically about how their animal interacts within its ecosystem and how humans can impact these interactions.

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Students Will Be Able To:

[1] make close, careful observations of animals

[2] clearly and descriptively communicate these observations in their journal

[3] make inferences about characteristics of these animals and ecosystems interactions

There is an art to observation, which is covered in more detail in the “Helpful Information” section of the PDF, as well as instructions for preparing student journals. Pre-teaching the relevant skills of drawing and writing descriptively in journals is essential to the success of your students while at the Aquarium. This unique activity involves students spending time exploring the galleries, selecting one animal to observe for an extended period and then working independently to engage in descriptive scientific journaling. Ensure students remain in their small groups, accompanied by chaperones at all times.


Task


Exploring the Vancouver Aquarium (30 – 45 min). For students of this age we strongly recommend allowing time for free exploration. The Aquarium is a highly stimulating environment and if students are not given this time to roam and discover then they may be distracted and overexcited throughout the more structured part of this lesson.

Class Re-group (10 min). In a pre-arranged meeting spot, discuss students’ reactions to the galleries.

  • What animals did they observe?

  • Which animal did they find most interesting? Why?

  • Did anyone change their mind after watching an animal for a period of time?


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Have students choose their favourite animal and determine which gallery each student will be located throughout the observation process and group students accordingly. You may need to have students select their second choice to avoid overcrowding.

Remind students that as this task involves the scientific process – they might not get all the answers they are looking for, or have enough time to complete every section of their journal. What’s more important is that what they do complete is detailed and accurate. They should be given time back at school to fill in any “blanks” and research further.

 

Animal Observation and Photo Gathering (30 - 45 min). Students now sit and observe their animal for a specified amount of time. This is where the practice comes in; if they have never observed before, they may not devote enough time to making the connections that are the most important part of this activity. Encourage them to record their observations using both writing and sketching. Their pre-prepared journal questions will guide them in this process.

Class sharing and reflection on-site (10 min). Gather as a class in your pre-arranged meeting location for a whole-class discussion. This is an important time for students to share their observations with their peers.

Suggested guiding questions include:

  • Describe some of the organisms you observed? Why did you choose them?

  • Did you have a hard time completing any of the questions?

  • What was the most interesting thing the animal you observed did?


Pro Tips:

  • To avoid too many students trying to look at one exhibit/gallery at the same time, have different groups start at different geographic zones within the Aquarium.

  • Outline times for group check-ins to ensure students are on task and focused. Each group should have a watch – designate a group member to monitor time for check-ins. (REMEMBER: Students under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult at all times, including in the 4D theatre)

  • This activity works best as a review of scientific concepts explored in class prior to a Vancouver Aquarium visit. Students should be familiar with the concepts of the needs of living things, and the importance of adaptations in aiding survival.

  • If you choose to have students completing activity sheets, then provide them with clipboards so they have a hard surface on which to draw and/or write.

  • Observation may be more challenging for some students than others. The pre-prepared journal questions can be modified depending on the needs of your students.


Learning Objectives

Grade 4

Big Ideas:

  • All living things sense and respond to their environment

Curricular Competencies:

  • How organisms structurally and behaviourally adapt to their environment

  • How organisms respond to changes in their environments

  • Demonstrate curiosity about the natural world

Content:

  • Environment interdependence and adaptations

 

Grade 5

Big Ideas:

  • Multicellular organisms have adaptations that enable them to survive and interact within their environment

Curricular Competencies:

  • Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest

  • Identify questions to answer or problems to solve through scientific inquiry

  • Experience and interpret local environment

  • Make observations in familiar or unfamiliar contexts

  • With support, plan appropriate investigations to answer their questions or solve problems they have identified

  • Observe, measure, and record data, using appropriate tools, including digital technologies

  • Communicate ideas, explanations, and processes in a variety of ways

Content:

  • basic structures of living organisms

  • the nature of sustainable practices around BC's resources

 

Grade 6

Big Ideas:

  • Multicellular organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce, and interact with their environment.

Curricular Competencies:

  • Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest

  • Make observations in familiar or unfamiliar contexts

  • Identify questions to answer or problems to solve through scientific inquiry

  • Experience and interpret the local environment

  • Observe, measure, and record data, using appropriate tools, including digital technologies

  • Use equipment and materials safely, identifying potential risks

  • Compare data with predictions and develop explanations for results

Content:

  • Basic structures of living organisms

 

 

Grade 7

Big Ideas:

  • Evolution by natural selection provides an explanation for the diversity and survival of living things

  • Earth and its climate have changed over geological time.

Curricular Competencies:

  • Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest

  • Make observations aimed at identifying their own questions about the natural world

  • Identify a question to answer or a problem to solve through scientific inquiry

  • Collaboratively plan a range of investigation types, including field work and experiments, to answer their questions or solve problems they have identified

  • Experience and interpret the local environment

  • Use scientific understandings to identify relationships and draw conclusions

  • Communicate ideas, findings, and solutions to problems, using scientific language, representations, and digital technologies as appropriate

Content:

  • Organisms have evolved over time

  • All organisms need space, food, water, and access to resources in order to survive

  • Sustainability of systems and First Peoples’ principles of interconnectedness

Download the attached PDF here for the full lesson plan. Included in the document are suggestions for pre-visit preparation, working with chaperones, and tailoring the activity to suit your needs


Continue to Spring Lesson Plan #3: Grade 4 to 7 (Aquarium Digital Discovery - The Tropics, Amazon Gallery) »