Science as a Whole - Tools for students

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Even though the Science as a Whole methodology can be quite extensive and detailed, its application in class can be summed up into two simple activities. These two activities are meant to be done in each science class after the teaching of a particular subject is concluded. Especially for the part of making connections to other science concepts, it is best if the science teachers of the school coordinate their teaching and work closely together. For more information on teachers' collaboration, check the 'Tools for Teachers' section.  

Below you may find a brief description of our two suggested activities and how to use them in your class. These two activities can be done either using printed materials or digitally using the Science WAND.

The knowledge hive
Essentially, the knowledge hive is a fact sheet that students are asked to fill in after the teaching of a particular subject is complete. The questions included in the hive are designed so that students are prompted to reflect on the concept they learned based on the three aspects of our methodology: a) Keeping the bigger picture in mind, b) Present each concept within different contexts and c) Personalized learning. The questions aim to encourage the student to think about the bigger picture, about other concepts related to the one under discussion, phenomena in which it plays a role, where we meet this concept in everyday life and if they have any personal experiences that are related to it.

You can ask your students to fill in the knowledge hive after you finish teaching a particular subject. The hive can be filled in in class or as homework, and if time allows it, there can be a follow up discussion where students exchange information. To help students make connections to other concepts and the Big Ideas of Science (the bigger picture) you can use the 3D ‘Interdisciplinary map of Science Ideas’ or the Science WAND.

As a teacher we encourage you to complete a knowledge hive before starting to teach a subject. During your teaching you can use the information you added in your hive as inspiration for your students or in different stages of your lesson to serve different goals. For example, you can use a personal experience, or a technology product related to the subject at hand as introduction. A discussion on personal experiences or from everyday life can also help you identify underlying misconceptions. Or, you can design a short experiment or demonstration based on a related phenomenon and use it with your students during the experimentation phase.

In the link below you will find a document including two different versions of the knowledge hive as well as an empty hive should you wish to add your own questions for your students. 

View The knowledge hive › 

The knowledge map
In this activity we invite students to create their own personal knowledge maps. These maps, are the students' personal knowledge structures, built based on connections between concepts that helps them place each concept they learn within a broader meaningful context. By doing this activity, students have yet another chance to engage in a personalized learning experience. Students create their maps based on their own understanding of how important each concept is and which are the connections between concepts worth remembering. The shapes, colours and overall presentations of the maps can differ widely from student to student thus demonstrating in an apt way how differently each student goes though the learning experience.

The strategy for designing the map is based on a very popular board game, the 'Settlers of Catan'. One of the reasons behind its success is the creative way the board of the game is set. Instead of having a fixed game board, in Settlers of Catan in order to make the game board, players are provided with five different types of tiles. Tiles are arranged randomly at the beginning of every game to make the board of the game. Thus, as the arrangement of the tiles changes every time, the strategy of the game also chances. That allows the game to be very diverse in terms of strategies and provides players with endless different boards to play with.

Using the same strategy, we invite students to make their own map, using hexagon tiles each of which has the name of a concept written on it. At the end of each chapter, students are invited to take tiles with the names of the concepts discussed and place them on their map. Students can place their tiles so that concepts that have a connection are placed one next to the other. As the school year progresses and more tiles are added to the map, students begin to see in a tangible way, the number of different concepts they have learned, they get to revisit them, review the connections between them and imagine different ways of connecting them. Students can always go back to their maps and rearrange tiles based on new knowledge and by deciding which connections they want to depict. Just like in the game, the possibilities are endless and students create unique maps according to their own notion.

The tiles designed by our team have eight different colours, one for each Big Idea. For each concept, the colour of the tile depends on the parent Big Idea. That way, while making their maps, students will get to mix concepts under different Big Ideas which is also a visual way of demonstrating the universality of science concepts and their interdisciplinary nature. Students can also choose to place the knowledge hive of each concept under the respective tile to keep all the information together. To place the tiles and design their maps, students can use different materials. They can use large sheets of canson paper, a foam board or anything else that suits your needs. If you collaborate with other science teachers, students can use the same map for all science classes and add tiles of concepts from every science discipline.

In the file below, you will find the coloured tiles of the 86 Basic Ideas of Science as presented in our 3D Interdisciplinary map of Science Ideas. Empty tiles are also added to further customize the activity.

View The Concept tiles › 

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POLAR STAR aims to bring together state-of-the-art learning pedagogies and combine them with exciting activities that focus on contemporary science, thus helping teachers to introduce STEAM successfully in their class. At the same time the project will focus on the development of students’ key skills and competences as well as deepening their knowledge of fundamental science principles, increasing their appreciation of science and technology and their role in todays’ societies. POLAR STAR aims to offer an open and innovative training framework to teachers of primary and secondary education which will focus on:

  • Promoting the 'Science as a Whole' concept;
  • Promoting a holistic STEM educational approach;
  • Promote the introduction of contemporary science activities in schools;

 

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