Science Informs Us with Observation, Perception, and Photographs That Tell a Story
Unit Designer: Dianne Renton Grade: 9‐12 Subject/Topic Areas: Special Education: Environmental Science Anchor Work and Artist: Untitled (Boy under Bridge) by Gregory Crewdson
Funding provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council
In this unit, students uncover what they think science, observation, hypotheses and perspectives are. Through experiences, they discover that science is an ongoing process that happens every day as we question, look for more information, make observations, and make informed guesses or hypotheses about what we think something is. They discover that what we sense is affected by our prior knowledge and perspectives. Students uncover meaning in science through immersion in their own observations, hypothesis making, and decision making in the science class with carry over into their everyday lives. Students also learn that decisions they make today effect the present and potentially in the future.
1. What is science: Is it information in a book? Is it something that has been discovered? Does it change? Stay the same? Is it happening around them? Is it a part of their world? Is it relevant to them? 2. What is a hypothesis? 3. How does observation fit into their world? What is “perspective” in science? 4. How does a picture tell a story? What story does it tell? Is the story the same for everyone? How does this relate to science history? Science today?
Students will be able to: 1. Make observations, raise questions and formulate hypotheses. 2. Communicate observations to their partner, small group or whole class. 3. Defend their hypotheses using the observations they made, and/or accept criticism if their observations do not hold up to the critical comments. 4. Use language and vocabulary clearly and logically. 5. Use a camera to tell a story about the Housatonic River. 6. Work in a group to create a staged photograph in the Pittsfield environment.
Students are assessed daily using a scale of 1‐10 that has 2 points each for participation, focus, following directions, staying on task and appropriate behavior. This assessment is done quickly at the end of each class with the student suggesting the number, teacher giving feedback, back and forth until there is agreement.
Prior Learning Required
• • •
Biology Ability to read and write at a minimum 3rd grade level Oral fluency
Science Observation Perspective Environment Hypothesis Staged Photograph _____________________________________________________________________________________
Lesson 1 OBSERVATION Overview
This lesson prepares students for making observations and gives them experience in observation. Students are able to draw upon their prior knowledge, apply their observation skills, and self‐check.
What are inquiry skills?
Students will be able to: 1. Understand that observation is a scientific skill. 2. Pose questions and form hypotheses based on personal observations. 3. Identify reasons for inconsistent results. 4. Communicate with partners and class the results of their observations.
Students will reflect on the activity and write a journal entry. Each student will assess his participation, focus, following directions, staying on task and behavior on a 1‐10 scale with the teacher. This will be recorded for class participation daily.
Observation Hypothesis, Hypotheses Communication
Sufficient copies of Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled (North by Northwest) for each group of 2 Sufficient copies of Crewdson’s Untitled (House Fire) (See right) Paper and writing implements for students to record observations.
Ask students what they think “observation” is. Write answers on an overhead projector as they are proposed. Then have students do the activities.
1. Pair off students and give each pair a copy of the Crewdson postcard, Untitled (North by Northwest.) 2. Designate one student in each pair as the Observer, the other as the Investigator. 3. Give the Observer 60 seconds to view the postcard. (The Investigator does not look at the picture.) After 60 seconds, have the Investigator ask the Observer questions. 4. After about 3 minutes of questioning and writing down the observations, have each Investigator create a scenario that reflects what s/he learned from the Observer. 5. With the information that the Investigators have, invite students to share with the whole class their reconstruction of what they think was seen by the Observers. 6. Have students share the post cards. 7. Lead a discussion to uncover what the Observers did well, how Observers and Investigators communicated, what each learned through the experience, what they would do differently the next time, etc. 8. Ask the Investigators to discuss the process of investigation, communication problems, etc. 9. Ask the Observers about their experience making observations. 10. Ask again what they think observation is and put their answers on the overhead acrylic in a column next to the earlier answers to this question. 11. Compare the differences between what they thought before the experience with and what they understand after the experience. 12. Ask students to make a journal entry: “What do they think they learned from this experience? How was it helpful to have this experience?” 13. Pass out another picture and reverse the roles of the students with Observers becoming the Investigators and the Investigators becoming the Observers. Go through the process again. 14. When the process is complete, ask students to make another journal entry. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Lesson 2 WHAT Overview
IS SCIENCE AND HOW IS IT COMMUNICATED?
A self‐written synopsis of the history of science will be told as a story to the students. This is to engage the students in appreciating how early science began through observation, just as science is done today but without all the technology. Students will understand the necessity of communicating or passing on information for the benefit of later generations as well as others living at that time. Students will feel connected to science through the simple early communication of cave men.
1. How do I use/experience/see science in my daily life. 2. What is the importance of passing information along to others?
Students will be able to: 1. Recognize that early man interacted with his environment. 2. Identify factors in an ecosystem that might be important to early man. 3. Communicate scientific ideas. 4. Fully participate in the activity, including discussions before and after the activity.
Students reflect on the activity and write a journal entry. Each student assesses her/his participation, focus, following directions, staying on task, and behavior on a 1‐10 scale with the teacher. Record this daily as “class participation.”
Communication: Sharing or imparting information with/to others through any media, including oral, written, recorded, web based, magazines, books, etc.
Large construction paper, beige. Red watercolor paint (to represent blood used for paint). Charcoal to represent early cave man drawing material.
Tell students that they are cave dwellers, living about 25,000 years ago. They know some scientific information that they must pass on to other cave dwellers who may use the cave at a later date.
1. Give students a piece of paper and tell them that it represents the sides of the cave. Ask them to pass a message along (without words) to future cave dwellers that will be preserved on the cave wall. 2. Ask students: “What kinds of methods might be used today to communicate scientific information?” 3. As students complete their cave drawings, hang them on the classroom wall. 4. Have students write in their journals about communication in cave dweller days and today. Ask them to compare/contrast the differences. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Lesson 3 WHAT
Students experience meaning making from putting together bits of information (puzzle pieces) first individually, then in small groups and larger groups. They experience group work, group dynamics, the importance of sharing information and ideas, and collaboration. They also observe carefully, piece together information, create hypotheses, share ideas, and communicate with others. They experience the process of uncovering information, the process of science.
What is science?
Students will be able to: 1. Discuss what science, observations and hypotheses are. 2. Know that science changes over time as new information is uncovered. 3. Make observations. 4. Make hypotheses based on their observations. 5. Sort materials as similar, different, related, etc.
Students are assessed on their performance during class, which is based on participation in the activity, including discussions before and after the activity. Students reflect on the activity and write a journal entry. Each student assesses her/his participation, focus, following directions, staying on task, and behavior on a 1‐10 scale with the teacher. Record this daily as “class participation.”
Science: the process of uncovering information. It is ongoing, changing. It employs the senses for observation and experimentation. Observation: the process of carefully watching, or looking, at something in order to find out information. Hypothesis: a proposed explanation made on the basis of what evidence one has as a starting point for further exploration, investigation and/or experimentation.
A copy of Gregory Crewdson’s (Untitled) Boy under Bridge (right) glued onto fiberboard and cut into many jigsaw pieces. Magnifying glasses. Paper and pencil.
The important part of these activities is the discussion surrounding what is happening ‐‐ observations, hypotheses, changing hypotheses, communicating ideas, sharing information, and doing science. 1. Have students start working individually. Give each a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Ask them what the puzzle is.
2. Repeat this several times.
3. Ask students to join with someone seated near them and share information. Follow with more questions and more pieces, clues, or information. 4. Ask for more observations on what they think the puzzle is. 5. Have students work in groups of four. Ask for their observations and hypotheses about what they think the puzzle is. 6. ventually, the whole class works together to uncover what the puzzle is about. E 7. As students work, continue to use the science vocabulary words concerning what they are doing: observation, hypothesis, communication and science. 8. When the puzzle activity is completed, ask students what they think the story is that the photographer, Gregory Crewdson, is telling in the picture. Encourage class discussion. 9. Ask students to work together as a class to come up with definitions of the vocabulary words that have been used in class. Books may be used, if needed. 10. Write the student definitions on the overhead and have students copy the words and definitions into their journals. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Lesson 4 LOOK
WHO’S TALKING NOW!
Students develop an understanding of perspective through role play, games, and discussion.
1. What is the artist, drawing, etc. saying? What is going on here? If we disagree, who is right? Do our experiences in life change how something appears to us? 2. What is perspective and how does that affect how we see things? 3. Is the message sent the same as that received? Why or why not?
Students will be able to: 1. Understand that observations are influenced by the background of the observer. 2. Recognize that art, pictures, science, and life can be interpreted differently by different people, depending on their perspective. 3. Understand that each person has her/his own perspective through which s/he views all of her/his environment.
Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
Pound of hamburger on plate. Pieces of paper with roles on them: “dog,” “McDonald’s worker,”“culinary arts student,” “mother,” “Hindu person” (reveres cows), “fly,” “vegetarian,” “teenage boy,” “teenage girl,” “grandmother,” etc. Overhead acrylics that represent optical illusions. Crewdson poster of Untitled: Boy under the Bridge.
1. Place students in small groups of two or three. 2. Ask each group to pick a role to play out of a hat. 3. Ask each, in their role, to take three minutes to respond in their group to the pound of hamburger. 4. Ask groups to share their responses to the hamburger with the class. 5. Lead a discussion of the various responses and the different perspectives.
1. Show students a picture that can be understood in more than one way (i.e., old lady, young girl, Eskimo/Indian, light/dark contrast, etc.). 2. Ask: “What do you think this is? Can you see anything else? Can anyone see something else? What else can you find in the picture?” 3. Project a variety of optical illusions with the overhead projector. Ask: “What do you think you see? What did the artist mean? What does this say?” 4. Discuss the concept of perspective: “What is it? How does it change how we see something?”
5. Display the poster of Crewdson’s Untitled (Boy under Bridge.) 6. Have students list in their journals what they see in the picture. 7. Next, ask what they think is going on in the picture. “What do they think is happening? Has happened? Will happen next?” Accept all answers. 8. Give each student an index card and ask them to write one word that comes to mind when they observe the Untitled (Boy under Bridge) poster. 9. Have each student pass their index card to the person on their left. Ask each to write a sentence using the word on the card to describe the picture. 10. Ask each student to share their sentence with the class. Lead the class to work together to arrange the sentences in a logical order. 11. Give students a guided writing assignment on how they would change the Crewdson photo.