This week, students were given a bag of random things that included a potato, balloons, a highlighter, a canning jar ring, a pipette, some beans, a pipe cleaner, a sugar packet… just lots of random things! Each groups bag was identical. They were also given a small piece of poster board (12”x18”) with a grid of 9 squares on it. They broke into groups of 2-3 and they had to figure out how to categorize ALL of their items. They didn’t need to use every square on their grid, but no item could be alone in a square.
When they were done, we investigated each groups work and tried to guess what criteria each block represented. There was a lot of questioning about “If these are round, why isn’t this thing in that block?” and lots of supporting their choices. They then had to go to a table that was NOT their own and see if they felt that they needed to “fine tune” another groups categories. We then went back and looked at all of those changes.
At the end, the students were able to come up with the reasons this was important for science: they understood that this is how scientists classify things (Pluto being declassified as a planet came up) and they fully understood that scientists will all see things differently, but they need to come to agreement.
We have some great future scientists in the group! And they all work really well together (I always switch who they’re working with).