Pedagogy & Content

By McKenzie Manley

When our group was presented with this idea of teaching science in a CLC after school program we were excited and had a lot of ideas. We were really excited to get to work with these expert engineers and we were excited to get there knowledgeable advice. We wanted to make sure that we incorporated the science content with the activity for the after school club. We decided that we wanted to do something that is interesting and relatable to our students. We also wanted to do something different. Then we came to consensus to make our overall science club to be about bubbles. We had a young group of students who were second and third graders so we thought they would love this. While we discussed this with our engineers they helped us to see that bubbles relate to cells. Cells are protective just like different types of bubbles are protective (bubble wrap protect the package, bubbles in soap protect our hands from germs). It seemed to be a stretch at first and it was challenging but the more we worked with it the more we found ways to relate bubbles to cells. We taught about bubbles shapes and how cells are different shapes. We talked about different sizes of cells and we measured our bubbles and used rulers to see the different sizes of our bubbles. We went through a variety of lessons that related bubbles to cells.

The lesson that I taught focused on was all about bubble colors. I knew that I needed to relate this to cells and it was a challenge. I wanted to create that bridge between pedagogy and content into my science lesson. I decided to relate bubble colors to the different colors of cells in different living things. Cells are in all living things from plants, to animals, to humans. Rather than just looking at human cells I wanted to dig deeper teach the students more about cells and how they are in all living organisms. With this young of a group you can’t go into cells in extreme detail because cell is a new idea and concept to them. I had to find that balance between challenging them and teaching them this new information but not go to deep as to where I completely lose the students because the content is over their heads. I found pictures of different cells in different living things so that I could present that to the students. I wanted to provide this visual so that they could understand the content. I also used food coloring in the bubbles that aligned with the pictures so that the students could relate their bubble to a specific living organism.

I got the chance to walk around and talk with each student about the different colors of cells. I got to have great conversation with the students and they each got to see up close the different cells and then they could relate that to the color of their bubble. One conversation I had was with a second grade student. She was very excited about the bubbles and this new idea of cells. Her bubbles were green and she had a lot of different bubbles. She told me that she had a bunch of plant cells, she thought that this might be the kind of cells in her mother’s plants in their garden. Another student made a very big bubble in his bubble home, he told me that he had one big human cell that could protect a big person. They were fun comments but I loved seeing their connections they were making to how cells protect our bodies and how they are different shapes and colors. I was very excited with how well the students were engaged. Students kept wanting to have more time to write in their journals but I had to tell them that they have to finish because our time was up. They really connected the content to the experiment. At the final discussion we had they all were talking about how they learned that every living thing has cells and cells look different in different living things. It was challenging because our activity was not focused on a typical science experiment. It was about bubbles and everyone knows bubbles are fun and great to play with. I had to really push the students to realize that yes they are fun and great to play with but we can also make a connection to a big science term of cells and how they are in living things. I loved reading through the science journals that they made and I loved seeing how they connected the content to the pedagogy. One student said in his journal that he had a blue bubble and it looked like a human cell. Another student said that bubbles are like cells and if you look really closely you can see all the different dots in it of color. The students really related the pedagogy to the content. They did not just play with bubbles but they connected the relationship between bubbles and cells. They looked at different cells and then they each decided which cells their bubbles looked like. They also tied in previous lessons and talked about the different sizes and shapes of their cells. It was a great experience and it not only made the students grow and learn it also molded me and helped me to think outside the box in my lesson.

I have never written a lesson that connected two things that seemed to be so different. Our group took a challenge and ran with it. We did not want to do the typical science experiment but we wanted to show students that you can find science in everyday things even something like bubbles that appear to just be a fun childhood memory and mold it into a science lesson. I believe that by taking something like a bubble and relating it to a cell really helped the students to see that bubbles protect us. Even though the students do not know all of the big concepts about cells they got a good foundation of this concept that they wouldn’t have otherwise. I believe that I planted a seed. This seed will grow their interest in cells and they will be able to connect this club to their future education when they learn about cells.

At the final CLC meeting our engineers came to wrap up the club as a whole. They asked the students what they had knew about cells. The students hands quickly went up and they said cells have different colors and sizes and they protect our bodies. I was so excited to hear this and to see that they really connected it. I was also excited that even weeks after my lesson the students were still connecting what they learned and they could share that with the engineers. This is something that I believe will stick in the student’s memory for a long time because it is so unique. It is unlike anything that they have ever done with bubbles and I think that alone will help them to always make that connection between bubbles and cells. Now when they are playing with bubbles they can always connect that information about cells. At the end of the day our club was a success, it may not have been perfect but we reached out to the students and they really made a lot of awesome connections to the bubbles and cells.

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