This post originally appeared on the blog The Science Duo.
Let’s get right down to business. As a teacher, you are constantly searching for tools to help engage ALL of your students within your daily lessons. Unfortunately, many of you are also often faced with increased class sizes and a severe lack of science equipment and supplies.
We know how difficult it can be to teach with outrageous class sizes. The pressure to reach all of your students can be overwhelming. And sadly, an enormous lack of funding just adds more fuel to the fire. Don’t be discouraged! We want to share with you how our S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Labs can be a huge benefit in your own classroom.
Over the past 9 months, we have hand-crafted 61 unique station labs covering a wide variety of major science concepts.
These labs have been used in classrooms across the nation with as few as 2 students or as many as 45 students. Each one is differentiated and student-led which allows you to be a facilitator (whew…huge sigh of relief). Even better, the 7 different tasks each station lab includes helps to increase overall student engagement
What about supplies required? That’s one of the very best aspects of these station labs. Each one requires very minimal setup and supplies that can be found in every science prep room.
Below you’ll find our “Quick Start” Guide to using the S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Labs.
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations Introduction
Our S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations are designed to get your students engaged, collaborating, and moving in your daily lessons. Each station provides a different method for reinforcing important science content. Each of the 7 stations correlates to a task that is represented by a letter in the word SCIENCE. These stations will have students Summarize, Create, Interpret, Experiment, Navigate, Challenge, and Extend. Upon completion of the 7 S.C.I.E.N.C.E. stations, students will also reflect on the activity to communicate their level of understanding.
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations Descriptions
The 7 S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations included are as follows:
Summarize – Students will read an article relating to a specific science concept. After reading the article, students will write a brief summary of the main ideas and key concepts contained in the article.
Create – Students will create a “graffiti wall” that will include words, phrases, pictures, diagrams, and/or icons to represent a specific science concept. Each student or group of students will add to the existing creation at this station.
Interpret – Students will interpret graphs, data tables, charts, diagrams, and/or pictures in order to answer a series of questions.
Experiment – Students will conduct a quick experiment or hands-on activity in order to demonstrate a specific science concept.
Navigate – Students will navigate through a card activity in order to decipher a code of symbols, numbers, and/or letters.
Challenge – Students will complete a challenge of digital BOOM Cards™ using computers, laptops, tablets, phones, or any electronic device with a modern web browser.
Extend – Students will extend their knowledge of a specific science concept. Students will answer questions to provoke deeper thought of the real world applications of science.
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations Suggestions for Use
The following are ways to utilize S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations in your classroom:
- Use at the end of a unit of study to gauge student understanding
- Use as an assessment activity
- Use in tutorials or student pullouts for struggling learners
- Use as a review or reteach activity
- Use to increase overall student engagement
Timing and Student Rotation
You may choose to set a timer for each station or allow your students to rotate freely from one station to the next. If you choose to set a timer, we suggest using a timer that can be displayed for all students to see. Online Stopwatch (www.onlinestopwatch.com) is a wonderful tool to use because it offers several different timer options.
Timer Method – A few of the stations, such as Experiment, Challenge, and Navigate will generally take a little longer to complete than other stations. It may take some time to adjust, but allowing students 2 timer sessions at these stations should provide enough time to complete the required tasks. Typically 4 or 5 minutes should be enough time to complete most stations (8 to 10 minutes may be necessary for the Experiment, Challenge, and Navigate stations).
Free Rotation Method (Preferred) – This is our preferred method for using S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Stations products. However, it is completely teacher preference.
If you choose to allow your students to rotate from station to station without the use of a timer, the following suggestions will be useful.
- If space in your room allows, you may want to duplicate ALL stations. Or you may choose to duplicate the stations that require more time, such as Experiment, Navigate, and Challenge.
- Each station should have no more than 4 students at a time.
- Students will work at their own pace and rotate to an “open” station at any time.
- Students should leave each station neat and organized prior to rotating to another station.
- The order in which the students complete the stations does not matter. They may start and finish at any station.
- Give the students several reminders of the time remaining in class (i.e. 20, 10, 5 minutes remaining).
- Allow early finishers to assist other students (teacher preference)
Independent vs. Partner/Small Group
You may choose to have your students work independently, with partners, or in small groups. All S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Labs are versatile and designed to be used in all of these scenarios. No matter which method you feel is best for your class, we recommend that students fill out their own student recording sheet. This will allow students to complete a personal reflection at the conclusion of the lab.
Teacher Facilitation and Best Practices
Each S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Lab product is completely student guided so that the teacher can truly be a facilitator. You should be able to freely move around the classroom to assist when needed. Be sure to give students the responsibility of completing all of the tasks on their own (we want them to become problem solvers). It may take a little practice, but students will become more independent each time they participate in a S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Lab.
Assessing Your Students
There are a couple of different ways to use S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Station Labs to assess your students. You may grade the student recording sheets or simply use them as data-collecting formative assessments.
- Grade the entire student recording sheet for accuracy or only grade certain sections. The Interpret, Navigate, and Challenge stations are generally the easiest to grade if you are looking for “concrete” answers.
- Use the student reflection portion of the recording sheet (shown below) as an exit ticket/formative assessment. Compile a list of students who do not feel they have fully mastered the content. You may do this by reading your students’ responses to their areas of weakness or by their “Level of Understanding Scale Score.” Any number below a 7 on the scale is a concern. These students may need extra remediation in tutorials, pullouts, small groups, or other beneficial interventions.
If you are interested in using these labs in your classroom, we have created a S.C.I.E.N.C.E Station Lab Bundle that contains 61 unique station labs covering a wide variety of major science concepts.
We hope these stations will help to relieve some of your planning stress while offering engaging, interactive, and meaningful lessons for your students!
Thanks for reading!
Scott and Natalie
Scott and Natalie have a combined 21 years of teaching experience in the middle school science classroom. They now focus full time on creating interactive, engaging, and hands-on activities for busy science teachers. If you enjoy helpful educational blogs, interesting science content, and funny teaching memes, check them out on Facebook or Instagram.