Setting Up a Hands-on Science Center in Your Classroom
Children come into this world wanting to know “why” or “how” about everything. There is nothing more exciting in a classroom than a science
center that engages that curiosity. With a little effort and a little money, a wonderful science center can be set up in any classroom.
The first thing you need to do is look at your curriculum for the year. What topics will you be covering? A good place to start is your textbook or teacher manual.
There is usually a list of supplies that go with any of the units in the book.
The basics should always include at least the following:
A class set of hand lenses.
A class set of thermometers.
A collection of nature materials. These can include samples of:
an assortment of pine cones
seeds from different plants
animal antlers, bones
fossils--these can be purchased from any of the classroom science catalogs that are in the school.
rock specimens- these can be brought in by you, students, or purchased as well.
Sense jars: These are very easy to make. Collect or ask a photography store for empty film cases. Most photo stores save them and give them out to teachers.
In each jar place a small amount of substances with strong, distinctive scents (coffee, cinnamon, mustard, peanut butter, pickle, perfume, chocolate, bubble gum, cheese, etc.). Leave
a paper blindfold near the cases and have children can take turns identifying the various scents while blindfolded.
Touch bags: These are also easy to make. You can use a brown paper bag or an old sock. In the bag place items of different textures such as cotton, sandpaper,
feathers, marble, square block, stick, aluminum foil, felt, wood, sponge, etc. Again, children can use the blindfold to identify each object. Encourage them to describe the texture
first by using touch words such as soft, hard, rough, smooth, cold, round, square, squishy, sticky, etc.
Balance scales: These are wonderful tools that will help teach the concepts of weight, mass, size, amount, measurement. These can be purchased inexpensively
from any of the school catalogs.
Basic cooking supplies: Have on hand salt, sugar, cooking oil, baking soda, flour, and epsom salts. All of these come in handy to show scientific concepts
like evaporation, dissolving, texture, crystallization, etc.
Measuring cups, spoons, in metric and standard measurements.
Have some animals around- set up a simple fish tank with goldfish. No heater is needed and they live a long time. Hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, and hermit
crabs are easy to take care of. Children love to take them home on vacations! In the spring, purchase a butterfly garden. You will receive caterpillars and the children can watch them
go through metamorphosis.
Make a science Word Wall. Some words to include from the beginning are: scientific method, problem, hypothesis, materials, procedure, observations, conclusion.
Other words can be added as the topic is taught. For example, a unit on water may include condensation point, evaporation, freezing, etc.
Science Library: Start collecting science books--fiction, and nonfiction. Whenever your students order books from one of the book clubs, see if there are
any appropriate books to order. You can use your bonus points. Make this a lending library and assign a book report on that genre.
Here’s a list of catalogs that specialize in science supplies:
With just a little amount of money and some careful planning, you can make your classroom an enriching science experience that a child will love to explore! I
hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions e-mail me.
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