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Science literacy is one of the cornerstones of good citizenship in the modern world. A

basic understanding of scientific knowledge and a firm grasp on scientific methods and inquiry

help students enter the world as educated consumers of media. This independent science lab is

designed to give students a chance to explore life science on their own terms and through their

own personal methods. Using labs and activities in science curriculum has been shown to

increase scientific understanding and positive attitudes towards science (Townsend, 2012).

Approaching science education from an inquiry perspective by encouraging students to

ask and seek to answer questions motivates and encourages students (Bass, Contant, & Carin,

2008). This science lab scaffolds an inquiry method by providing some information, including 21

animal cards with four identifying pieces of information on each, while requiring the student to

make deductions drawing from research and prior knowledge. Since the lab is fully independent,

students are free to work together which contributes to students’ abilities to work cohesively, an

element of laboratory environments that has been shown to improve student academic

performance (Aladejana & Aderibigbe, 2007).

This lab was also designed to be open-ended, another contributor to academic success in

science environments (Aladejana & Aderibigbe, 2007). Animal cards could be placed

individually or in concert with each other, students could fill out whole cards or simply one

category on a card to contribute, and students could also place cards that other participants had


The careful design and explicit instructions built into this lab are an example of high-

quality instruction, which encourages students to move from curiosity to interest to reasoning

(Moulding, Bybee, & Paulson, 2015). The lab is designed to activate prior knowledge and to

spur students into unfamiliar territory. The lab’s focus on local, familiar animals is an intentional

effort to relate science to students’ everyday lives, which has been shown to increase student

interest (Bass et al., 2008).

When science curriculum can be delivered in a format that considers all aspects of space

from the physical, to the emotional, to the social, to the intellectual, room is created for students

to be creative (DeVries & Zan, 2012). This lab provides a private but potentially social

environment for students to engage with attractive and personal materials on their own terms. It

incorporates art and design with social, collaborative learning to increase students’ depth of



Aladejana, F. & Aderibigbe, O. (2007). Science laboratory environment and academic

performance. Journal of Science Education and Technology 16 (6), 500-506. DOI:


Bass, J. E., Contant, T. L., & Carin, A. A. (2008). Teaching science as inquiry (11th ed.). New

York, NY: Pearson.

DeVries, R. & Zan, B. (2012). Moral classrooms, moral children: Creating a constructivist

atmosphere in early education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Moulding, B., Bybee, R., & Paulson, N. (2015). A vision and plan for science teaching and

learning. Essential Teaching and Learning Publications.

Townsend, L. A. (2012). The effects of laboratory-based activities on student attitudes toward

science (Unpublished master’s thesis). Montana State University. Bozeman, MT.

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