Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
Generation Genius is best used when teachers take advantage of the lessons that go along with the videos. While the videos are helpful, the lessons actually allow students to engage in the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. For example, in the video about the moon and its phases, there are key places to stop and engage in class discussion. The lessons also encourage collaboration if kids do one of the investigations together. However, some of the lessons direct students to check to see if they have the "correct" answer. The new NGSS vision of science instruction involves less focus on teachers posing questions with only one right answer. Instead, ask kids to focus on the strength of the evidence used to support claims and then modify models to create one class consensus model.
And, to encourage more student-generated discussion and involvement, have some more open-ended questions ready to spark discussion and help kids make connections. For instance, use the beginning of the video as a hook, and pause along the way to ask questions and get student responses. Instead of doing the same experiment featured in the video, do a different one exploring the same concept so that students can explore it from different angles. See if students can apply what they've learned more broadly and come up with more real-life applications.
Generation Genius is a comprehensive set of science videos and lessons made in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association. The resources align with the Next Generation Science Standards for grades K-5, with recent additions for grades 6-8. Each video has accompanying lesson plans, science investigations, and quizzes.
The lessons cover everything from life sciences to basic physics, and the videos are live-action with kid actors and Dr. Jeff (Dr. Jeff Vinokur), who's gained some fame from television appearances and school demonstrations. In terms of the lesson specifics, one first grade topic features a video where sound vibrations splash paint and make art. Teachers can project before and after video questions and have kids read or listen to information on their own or as a class. Then, kids conduct their own investigation, using a speaker to make sprinkles bounce around. Additional activities guide kids to make their own kazoo that uses vibrations to make sounds. The lesson closes with a Kahoot assessment or a paper exit ticket.
Generation Genius lesson plans adhere closely to the disciplinary core ideas in NGSS. They follow the 5E model, engaging students by asking questions like "What shape is the moon?" and "Why does it change shape?" The videos showcase a diverse cast of characters conducting scientific investigations, and then students engage in their own investigation. Like Mystery Science, Generation Genius provides activities that are fun and age-appropriate, though some of the videos may be a bit long for the K-2 range, and middle school students might roll their eyes at some of Dr. Jeff's antics. Though the lessons for grades 6-8 have a different introduction, and the kid actors aren't too saccharine, it might appeal even more to tweens if the overall tone was a bit more mature.
And while each element of the lessons covers the necessary ground to model asking the right questions, investigating, and discovering answers, there are limited opportunities for students to ask their own questions or design investigations. It would be great if some of the discussion questions were a bit more open-ended, helped kids make connections, or truly sparked a discussion. More student-led curiosity and exploration is left to the teacher. As a means to show how fun science can be and how it's relevant to our lives, Generation Genius has a lot to offer.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago.
Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
Earth and Human Activity
Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.
Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.
Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.
Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.
Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Use a model to describe that animals’ receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.
Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells, either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.