Blending a read aloud and hands-on activity has been the perfect mix for our students. We've been busy trying to understand how the universe is made up mostly of hydrogen. We read about it but then we don't get it. If we had just read about it, I don't think students would have been able to understanding these abstract concepts. If we had just built models, I don't think they would have the context and appreciation of the history behind how the periodic table has been structured or "discovered".
To tackle this, I've been reading aloud The Disappearing Spoon and we've been using the close reading strategy to tear apart an article about Hydrogen: Where it All Started. Both of these are written by Sam Kean. We are excited because the author is going to be involved in a Twitter chat and my students are hoping to learn more and maybe ask a question or two. I don't know how this will go since they've never been involved in a Twitter chat about an academic topic....we'll talk about it and I'll do my best to help them.
Yesterday we took all the info we'd gathered from our textbook, the Spoon and the Hydrogen...and we started building heavy elements using our atom models. We only tried to build stable atoms and using the periodic table's information and creating that original hydrogen atom, we built heavier and heavier atoms.
It was the hands-on that made the ideas of these bits of information make more sense. It's hard to picture how hydrogen "turns" into helium. But then when you have a model of a hydrogen atom and a bunch of subatomic particles in your hands....it almost seems easy to add protons, neutrons and electrons to the atom....and it changes into helium right before your eyes.
We used a CPO lab called Building the Elements and we took on the Atomic Challenge.