Procedural Thinking: Writing Clear Directions!

Today your child began an exciting science program in their classroom offered by Science from Scientists. SfS is a Boston-based, non-profit organization that strives to improve science and technology attitudes and aptitudes. We send real scientists into the classroom during school every other week to teach exciting, fun, and curriculum-relevant science lessons. We will be visiting your child’s classroom every other week throughout the school year. We will bring engaging, informative, and stimulating hands-on lessons with us to supplement the school’s science curriculum.

Mr. Stanmyer and Mr. Hart will be the scientific instructors for the students at the McKay school this academic year. Mr. Stanmyer is a biologist who studied how DNA repairs itself when it gets damaged. Mr. Hart is a biochemist who studied multiple neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease. They are very excited to get the students exploring science in a hands-on atmosphere.

For our first lesson, students learned why following clear, ordered plans is useful in many aspects of life. However, being able to provide a detailed, precise plan that others can follow can be challenging. A plan that contains all the information needed to replicate an experiment includes three parts: a list of materials needed, a set of instructions on how to use these materials, and descriptions of the intermediate results.

In today’s activity, students got the chance to practice giving precise instructions. Each student received a bag containing two identical sets of construction blocks. Using one set of the blocks, students were given a set amount of time to build a creation of their choosing and write a set of instructions detailing each step of the building process. The purpose of this was for each student to write down instructions that are detailed enough so that others could replicate their models. Once the students were done building and writing, they passed their instructions and blocks on to classmates to build by following the directions. Afterwards they compared the originals to the recreations and were able to see how more detailed and precise instructions had led to more accurate results.

As a class we talked about ways students could improve their directions to make it easier for another person to follow. Using precise locations, like “centered” or “on the left”, and specific shapes, colors and sizes to identify pieces were some of the ideas that students came up with to help improve their directions. Some students found that drawings helped a lot as well.

Pensamiento Procesal: Cómo Escribir Instrucciones Claras.

La habilidad de crear y seguir un plan es algo muy útil en muchos aspectos de nuestra vida. No obstante, ser capaz de proveer un plan de manera precisa y detallada a modo que otros sean capaces de seguirlo, puede ser muy difícil. Un plan que contiene toda la información necesaria para replicar un experimento debe incluir tres partes: una lista de los materiales necesarios, un set de instrucciones de cómo usar los materiales y descripciones sobre resultados preliminares.

En la actividad del día de hoy, los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de practicar el dar instrucciones precisas. Cada alumno recibió una bolsa con dos sets de bloques de construcción idénticos. Usando un set, los estudiantes tuvieron un tiempo determinado para construir una creación propia y para escribir un set de instrucciones que detallara cada uno de los pasos del proceso de construcción. El propósito de esto fue que cada estudiante escribiera instrucciones lo suficientemente detalladas para que los otros pudieran replicar sus modelos. Una vez que los estudiantes terminaron, le pasaron sus instrucciones y bloques de construcción a otro compañero. Después compararon las construcciones originales con las recreaciones y fueron capaces de distinguir que los set de instrucciones más detalladas tuvieron resultados más precisos.

Finalmente toda la clase discutió sobre las maneras de mejorar las instrucciones para que hacer más fácil que otra persona las siga. Dentro de las ideas para mejorar las indicaciones se discutió usar ubicaciones precisas como “al centro o a la izquierda” y describir las piezas por forma, color y tamaño.

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