Science Experiments and Problem Solving


One of my favorite subjects to teach is science! It is hands-on with high interest activities. Conducting science experiments is always a blast! My students come in and ask ‘What are we going to blow up today?’ or ‘Can we drop more things?’ They love science just as much as I do. What most of them do not realize is the amount of problem solving they are doing while conducting a science experiment.

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With the new Next Generation Science Standards, there are many different topics to cover that can be very relevant in a moderate to severe disabilities classroom. So you say, “How is building a marshmallow tower functional?” I say: problem solving! My students come to me with some problems that seem insurmountable to them but typically have an easy answer, if you have those essential problem solving skills. Many students do not have these necessary skills. I believe that not only are we having fun conducting awesome science experiments and learning new skills, but we are also working on some very functional skills as well. Whether we are trying to determine possible solutions for erosion or seeing who can make the fastest balloon car, we are working as a team and trying multiple solutions to solve the next problem.

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When we complete the science experiments, students are looking at the information and the problem. They discuss the constraints and may use picture boards to assist with the discussion. Brainstorming and determining some viable solutions (sometimes with pictures prompts) is the next step. Then, they will continue to build or implement the solution. Students evaluate the solution. Next, students answer observation and interruption questions. Materials and costs are also part of the problem that needs to be considered.

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Each of these steps lead to an exciting lesson, an involved student, and includes the art of how to solve a problem. Science, problem solving, and fun! What a terrific combination!

If you are interested in viewing some of our science experiments, click on this link.

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