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Community Problem Solvers

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Keywords: scientific inquiry, experimental design, criteria, constraints, data collection, research, graphing, SCIENCE
Subject(s): Science
Grade 6
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Randall G Lynch Middle School, Farmington, AR
Planned By: Melissa Miller
Original Author: Melissa Miller, Farmington
Objective: Teams of students will use science inquiry or engineering design to solve a community problem.

Students will collaborate in teams of 3 or 4 to research a community problem based on one of the seven challenge areas:
•Alternative Sources of Energy
•Food, Health & Fitness
•Forces & Motion
•National Security & Safety

Students will be required to have a minimum of 10 different, reliable research sources, using online journals, and other valid sources. They will then analyze this research, summarizing the knowledge that was gained.

After conducting research, students will then choose to complete their project using either science inquiry or engineering design.

For Science Inquiry:
Students will develop a science question that addresses a problem in our community that would fit under one of the seven headings.
A hypothesis, in the form of an IF,Then statement will be developed, identifying the independent and dependent variables. Students will then address how they are ensuring the validity of their hypothesis.
Teams will then develop a plan for testing the hypothesis, listing the materials and procedures for conducting the experiment, as well as allowing for sufficient replication.
A data table will be generated using Excel, so that results can be easily graphed.
Students will also be collecting evidence, including digital photographs of their experimental process.
Following this, students will analyze their data, explaining their results.
The final component is the development of a conclusion, explaining whether or not their hypothesis was correct and how their results either proved or disproved their hypothesis. They will then address the "what's next?" factor, explaining the next steps that should be taken in the research or how they plan to implement their solution to the problem.

For Engineering Design:
Students will compose a design statement, addressing the problem that they are attempting to solve. They will then identify the criteria and constraints for their solution, which can include a model or design for solving their problem.
Students completing this version of the challenge will then design a model or solution, again listing all materials needed and procedures for producing this. The model will then be tested to determine how successful the plan is. Students will use technology to construct their models, test their models, and record data in data tables and graphs.
They will also develop a conclusion, explaining how successful their solution is, followed by the what's next factor.

For both teams, all team work is a collaborative process, with all materials saved in an online team folder and all team members equally responsible for the completion of the process. Peer review is a huge component, with students completing both self and team evaluations at the conclusion of the project.
This is project based learning. It will address current science frameworks as well as components found in the NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS, our new national standards, which will be released the week of April 8, 2013. It has a strong tie to the community, since students are required to research and develop a solution to a community problem. At this time, our school has close to 600 students with 1 computer lab that must be shared. It is very difficult to schedule multiple days in the computer lab. Having 15 netbooks would enable the students to work together in partnerships to conduct research as well as work in collaboration to complete project folders online.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This has a very strong correlation to mathematics, with data collection and graphing a component of each project. Other aspects of math such as measurement are also included.
Because the students are compiling everything into a shared mission folder, communication skills will be a stressed component. This ties in to the research component of Common Core Language Arts, as well as the communication component.
Each project will conclude with the "What's Next?" component, where students must reflect on what worked and what did not. They will be asked to describe what they should do next, either in further experimentation or in the implementation of their ideas. We plan to present our projects at our Family Math/Science night, inviting parents and community members to our school to look at our projects and talk with the students about them.
Links: Link to ECybermission
Materials: Mobile Labs, Flash/USB Drives, Middle
Other Items: 15 Acer 10.1" Netbook, 4 GB memory, 320 GB Hard Drive, $392.00 each, total of $5880.00
30 8 GB Lexar Jump Drive, $10.00 each, total of $300.00