Common Sense Review
Updated May 2014

ExploreLearning Gizmos: Science Grades 6-8

Fun experiments let kids choose variables and explore
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This module is part of the Website ExploreLearning Gizmos.
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • In the photosynthesis lab, students can adjust temperature, light intensity, CO2 Levels, and color, then see how much oxygen is produced.
  • In Rabbit Population, kids choose variables to manipulate to see how they impact the population.
  • In Household Energy Use students go through each room to examine energy cost and consumption.
  • In another Gizmo, kids can arrange stars using an H-R Diagram.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
How Can Teachers Use It?

These Gizmos can be used with a broad range of students, even those in high school. However, not everything here will be appropriate for middle schoolers -– you may need to adapt some activities to meet their needs. Once you've found the right Gizmos for your class, devise a way to individualize students' inquiries. Since most of the Gizmos here have multiple variables to manipulate, every student in a class can design his or her own investigation. In "Rabbit Population by Season," one student could examine how land area impacts a population; another might choose to look at the impact of a harsh winter. This experiment would be impossible given the traditional constraints of most classrooms, but ExploreLearning removes these barriers with an innovative way for kids to experiment.

The science Gizmos also provide scaffolding to help kids learn how to interpret data. The Photosynthesis Lab could seem overwhelming at first, but it can work well if you begin by assigning each pair of students a different set of variables to explore. Since the Gizmo produces a graph for them, students can simply focus on figuring out what their data means. Each pair could then share their results with the class. This gives everyone a chance to build understanding about photosynthesis together, modeling collaboration within the scientific community.

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