Science Center Ideas for Students Who Finish Work Early
A science center can be a great way to extend the learning of students who finish their work early.
By Deborah Reynolds
When students finish class work early, they need to have resources available to keep them busy, challenged, and learning. Some students finish work quickly because they understand it and are ready for more. Providing a center with science activities can be an easy solution.
In addition, having a science center can address the needs of the early finisher throughout the school day. Within a center, activities can address a variety of skills and subject areas. For example, you could provide short non-fiction stories about famous inventors or scientists in history. After students have read the material, you could have them compare and contrast the work of these individuals. Students could also conduct mini experiments that describe the work of each inventor or scientist. Math can be tied in by having students chart and graph the results of the experiment. You can incorporate writing by having students write a reflection piece after the experiments. They could also write about their opinions about each person and their experiments or inventions. As a culminating activity, students could create a timeline or sequence chart detailing what they did in the experiment from beginning to end.
Setting up a center can take very little time and does not require an overwhelming amount of materials. Begin by assessing what you already have. Some materials you may want to have on hand are small plastic containers or cups, goggles, measuring spoons and cups, scales, thermometers, rulers, a timer, and magnifying glasses. Alert colleagues that you are planning to set up a science center and see what they have on hand that they can share with you. Also, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of parents. Asking them to save cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, and Stryrofoam plates will encourage students to recycle at home.
Once you have gathered your materials, assign a space in the classroom for the center. Explain the rules to the students so that they understand that this is a center they can visit once they have successfully completed a given assignment. Print out a sign for the center and provide a sheet with the instructions. Put all of the materials needed in a basket and let students explore and learn. This science center will provide enrichment and occupy the minds of those students usually waiting for the time for a particular assignment or subject to end.
Science Center Activities and Lessons:
Students gather data after conducting two experiments. They create graphs using the data. This lesson incorporates math, language arts, and technology.
Seven science center ideas are in this lesson plan. The goal of each is to explore the meaning of E in E = mc squared. The majority of the materials are materials that can be found in the household or school science kits (if available).
There are four different science center ideas in this lesson plan. Reading and writing are incorporated with books and a follow-up writing exercise. Some of the materials are string, magnets, pencils, and tape.
This lesson is geared toward kindergarten through second, but can be easily modified for upper grades. Students use grape juice to determine which foods are an acid or a base. This lesson requires minimal supplies.