This lesson teaches students to think

Published 1:07 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Opp Middle School science department is trying to help students develop critical learning skills with hands-on projects, like calculating the average speed of the beetle.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to take science concepts and standards we learn and apply them in a way that they can visually see it,” Science teacher Sterling Driver said. “It is very important for our kids to translate facts they learn with processes and apply them to problems. Doing hands-on labs like this will hopefully pay dividends down the road as they learn critical thinking skills.”

Driver said that this project is a separate lab from the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative kits that they usually get.

“It utilizes a living organism, a beetle,” Driver said. “Which provides a unique opportunity to learn about its habitat, adaptations, and its role within the ecosystem.”

Another plus side of this lab is using math concepts and applying formulas, in this case calculating the average speed of the beetle, Driver said.

The students allow the beetle to crawl around on a poster board for one minute, each trial, while tracing its path with a highlighter and then using string to retrace the line and ultimately measure the distance the beetle crawled. The students then plug that data into a formula that helps them calculate the average speed of the beetle.

Driver said that his students appreciate being able to do these hands-on activities.

“The kids enjoy these type labs and hopefully will increase their abilities to apply these learning concepts in all subject areas in life,” Driver said. “That’s our goal as educators, is to provide them not just with facts, but with skills that will help them through life.”

Katie Jackson, a student at OMS, said that the hardest part of the project was trying to follow the beetle with the highlighter.

“You have to make sure that it doesn’t get off the poster board,” Jackson said. “Sometimes it moves really fast and it gets off.”

Cuba Wiggins, another student at OMS, said that her favorite part of the project was being able to work with a beetle.

“I think it is good that we do projects like this, because all of us learn differently,” she said.

“Some people learn with more hands on projects and this is where that helps out more students.”