Seedlings lend themselves to experimentation, but in the Northwest, I have found that only spring conditions truly lend themselves to a successful inquiry. Start with an exploration of seedling growth. Preview some videos such as this one, and begin to ask questions such as, what it would take to grow your own seedlings.
Meaningful questions that elementary or intermediate students can answer are questions such as, how does sunlight effect seedlings? Does a seedling know which way is up? Does the source of the soil make a difference in the growth of seedlings? Do seedlings need salt, or do they like salt and vinegar chips? Does the colour of the light affect the growth of seedlings? What matters more, the temperature or the intensity of light? These are but examples. The best questions are the ones you come up with while exploring. Just make sure that when you explore, you explore for questions.
Children usually need to be guided to make exploring purposeful. Present to them things they may not have seen before and look for signs of wonder. Ask them to express it and help them to shape it. Not all questions are equally created, and fashioning a good inquiry question is something for which they will need your help. When you have a question, reflect on why you are asking that question and ask if it is scientifically testable. This is the key stage and you are welcome to ask for help from your teacher. Your project will only be as good as your questions.
Once you have formulated your question, you’ll find you have one, or sometimes two things that you expect to change yourself and one thing you want to measure. So, for example, you may want to try growing seedlings in various amounts of compost. You control the amount of compost, so that is your independent variable. The dependent variable is the one that depends on the independent one. We guide our children to get used to taking data and plotting in a chart or a graph, or both. On the left or along the bottom is the part you control (independent variable), and on the right the part you want to observe and measure.
Once you know your variables, plan your experiment. Purchase any needed materials and supplies at this stage. An experiment is a fair test, so make sure that the only thing that changes is your independent variable, so for our example, if you have seeds in cups of soil, make sure that the size of the cup, the water, the light, and the temperature are the same for each cup. That is what makes it a controlled experiment or a fair test. You wouldn’t keep the one you want to win indoors and put the rest outdoors; and, you know this won’t work if you don’t do them all at the same time.
Measure all the factors that you can think of, including the one you are testing. Keep records of your data. Take pictures, draw sketches, and document carefully what you are doing at every step, right from the beginning. Keep the experiment going for as long as possible. Try to be objective, ask if someone else would get the same result.
Write a lab report. Include these headings: Introduction or Purpose, Hypotheses or Question, Method or Procedure, Recorded Data, Discussion, and Conclusion. Possibly more ideas here.
Dates and Resources
Leaving Money on the Table
Everyone is aware of HCOS funding for learning resources. If for any reason you don't need all of it, there's nothing wrong with leaving it for others. It's a shared table and HCOS counts on the fact that few people spend every dime in their accounts. That said, it's wise to be deliberate about it, rather than missing the deadlines. My classroom experience matches my HCOS experience: conclude spending for the current year by the end of March. That leaves room for error and emergencies. Spend only what you need and leave the rest, but don't just procrastinate past the deadline. That's not good for learners.
- Funding Opens for 2019-2020 school year: approx. April 30 (Means you can get a Purchase Order number for 2019 - 2020 and use them to get supplies for September.)
- Deadline for purchasing outside of Canada: May 1
- Deadline for using the 2018-2019 PO#: May 15
- Purchasing Department shutdown: May 15 to July 1 (This means no special orders-- the ones that go through Purchasing. You can still use your 2019-2020 Purchase Order number directly with vendors who take HCOS Purchase Orders.)
Note also: This is the last year for internet reimbursements.
Dates and Links:
April 12 Open House
April 19-22 Easter
April 23 to 30 CHEC (Convention in Kelowna)
June 7 Deadline for new work samples.
June 24 Report Cards are complete and available.
You may be interested in my recommended resources page. I only add to these resources when I see a learner has done well using it within the BC curriculum. I hope to add a few more links this year.