Third grade students collaborate as both scientists and learners

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Third grade students were excited to present their science projects at Westside School’s Lower School Exhibition of Learning last Thursday evening! Our fall science unit focused on heredity and variance of traits, ecosystem dynamics, and natural selection. Each student chose an organism to study, becoming experts on its distinct traits and adaptations. For their culminating project, they created a non-fiction book or brochure. The students were asked to use their project to illustrate their answer to the driving question, “What would the ideal habitat be for my organism?”

A driving question captures the purpose of the project. It helps students to initiate and focus their inquiry, and to independently navigate their research. As students tackle a wide breadth of new information, branching questions spring up with increasing frequency. The open-ended driving question encourages this curiosity, while helping the student to continually see the true north of their project.

The students conducted independent research in class to gather information about their animal, not only describing its ideal habitat, but also to explain why it is so well suited for that particular environment. The students worked backwards, describing every step of their organism’s ecosystem from individual all the way out to biome and explored the topics of habitat disturbances, food webs, and natural selection.

The third grade students collaborated with each other as learners and scientists through their process. They enthusiastically shared exciting new facts with each other, and after publishing their work, they gave presentations to the class, ending with an engaging forum about the differences and similarities in their organisms.

If you didn’t have a chance to see them at the Lower School Exhibition of Learning, we invite you to check out all the students’ projects in the Lower School hallway and third grade classrooms!

contributed by Hayley Sayre, third grade Instructional Assistant