With the touch of our finger—several times a day—we all count on electricity to light up our lives. Students begin learning about electricity with an introduction to the most basic unit in ordinary matter, the atom. Once the components of an atom are addressed and understood, students move into the world of electricity. First, they
explore static electricity, followed by basic current electricity concepts such as voltage, resistance and open/closed circuits.
Martin Walker Elementary fifth graders in teacher Heather Holden’s science class were not only given the opportunity to build circuits, pathways in which electrons from a voltage or current source flow, but they also used their problem-solving skills to fix broken circuits.
“I chose this activity for kids to be able to truly look at the difference between complete and incomplete circuits,” Holden said. “Students had to create the circuit they saw on their lab sheets and then decide if they were complete or incomplete. If it was incomplete, they had to work together as a team to figure out what was needed to make it a complete circuit. I love that they can practice and be able to touch and see it through hands-on application.”
Not only does the lesson build problem-solving skills, teamwork and offer a kinesthetic approach to learning, but it also meets the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requirement of the flow of electricity. TEKS are grade level standards required to be taught in order to prepare students for their STAAR testing later this Spring.
The STAAR test measures what students are learning in each grade and, for 5th grade students, may determine whether or not they will move on to the next grade. Fifth grader Olivia Caine retains more information through kinesthetic learning.
“Building helps me learn better,” Caine said. “I always feel like I remember the answers to questions if I did the work with my hands.”
Hands-on learning opportunities provide students with concrete experiences that significantly enhance their understanding of abstract concepts Holden said.
“Martin Walker fifth grade students will be able to draw upon their circuit-building learning opportunities and use their experiences to possibly answer questions on the STAAR or in their sixth grade science classes.”
Martin Walker hosts a workshop for parents before testing begins called Test Taking Strategies. The purpose is to teach parents how to assist their children with stress levels and how to be a better test taker. State STAAR test dates are April 7-9 and April 14-17.