The Discovery lab is 18 stations set up for groups of two kids to rotate through every 1 minute and 40 seconds. Enough time to do the activity, time to play, barely time to record observations or answer questions.Just enough time to be enthralled but not bored. (In this photo students are discovering the blind spot that we all have in each eye's field of vision).
THE INVESTMENT: It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to set it up last afternoon and that was even being a lab that was in a pre made "kit".
Have each lab you do set up into a kit. Get all the materials need together in one box. I don't put basic glassware or hot plates etc. Doing this keeps you from hours of running around setting up. If you are lucky and have a T.A. (student teachers assistant) AND IF YOU HAVE PRE-PLANNED* you can have your helper do most of the set-up for you. Sometimes I'll have my students help me take down or set up the lab. Our students can be big helpers for us if we use them.
*In my experience, nothing is a better gift for your self than planning ahead...don't do what I did for years and walk in the door with a vague idea of the unit your in and then decide to throw a lab together. This happens a lot when you are starting out during the survival mode of teaching but you have to get yourself out of that stage very fast.
RETURN AND INTEREST: So, back to my point about the time it took me to set up the lab. 1:15 to set it up. I will use the lab for two days. I'll get hours of science joy from this set-up time. A great investment and return. Kids will be having fun. I can get a few things done while they work BUT...YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE KIDS, KEEP THEM FROM GETTING OVER EXCITED, MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT MOVE AHEAD OF MY ROTATION CALL MAKE SURE ALL MATERIALS ARE IN GOOD ORDER.
A good timer is important, I suggest the pampered chef timer...it counts up, down and beeps loud and persistant. I almost went hoarse from hollering "Rotate"...use a bell to annunce rotate and not lose your voice...I am kinda tired today and I think it is from speaking loud every 100 seconds.
It's amazing how busy I am monitoring while it looks like I'm doing nothing but sitting a the computer. If you don't pay close attention things get broken, kids get out of control, and kids stop learning. What I really like about the DISCOVERY lab is kids think they are playing but they are actually experiencing a lot of physical science concepts. For example, this picture shows the SPECIFIC HEAT station. Wood, plastic, and aluminum. The wood feels no temp, the plastic slightly cool, and the aluminum feels COLD...but they are all the same temperature. Metals transfer energy (heat) very quickly.
Today's best practice: Have labs "kitted up". Save boxes to use as your storage containers. Stack them on the back room shelves or in cabinets ready. This investment will save you lots of time in the future.
For a copy of this lab contact me at the e-mail address below
I hope this helps,
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion
Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science