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Problem Solving

Problem Solving

TEKS Objective

The student is expected to identify and explain a problem such as finding a home for a classroom pet and propose a solution in his/her own words. 

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Essential Understanding

The student knows that information and critical thinking are used in scientific problem solving. 

Science Background

Scientists at Play, Teaching Science Process Skills: Science in School (website) - Describes a variety of problem solving strategies, for teachers of all grades.

Scientists at Play, Teaching Science Process Skills
Science in School,

Problem Solving: The Art of Teaching Science (website) - In exploring different kinds of thinking and problem solving skills, this article distinguishes between basic skills (provide a foundation for science) and integrated skills (higher-level skills that demonstrate deeper understanding of problem solving and scientific investigation).

Problem Solving
The Art of Teaching Science,

Signature Lesson

Build a Better Pencil: Science NetLinks (website) - This design challenge engages students as they observe, evaluate and propose solutions to improve the design of a familiar classroom tool, the pencil.

Build a Better Pencil
Science NetLinks,

Supporting Lessons

Invent a Backscratcher from Everyday Materials: TeachEngineering (website) - Being able to recognize a problem and design a potential solution is the first step in the development of new and useful products. In this activity, students create a device to that allows one to scratch an itch in the center of his/her back.

Invent a Backscratcher from Everyday Materials

Which Roof is Tops? TeachEngineering (website) - Students explore the advantages/disadvantages of different roof shapes for different climates or situations.

Which Roof is Tops?

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

The Litterbug: Cleanup Australia (PDF) - Students conduct a “litter audit” in which they identify where and what kinds of trash they find around the school. The class uses their findings to organize an anti-litter campaign to solve the problem of littering at school.

The Litterbug
Cleanup Australia,

Assessment Ideas

Ask students to work with a partner to identify and explain a problem in their school, such as a leak in the water fountain that wastes natural resources, or a slick floor that might pose a risk to people walking on it. Have students propose a solution and report their ideas to the class. 

Literature Connections

Is a Worry Worrying You? Wolff, Ferida (ISBN-13: 978-1933718057)

Baxter Needs a Home. O’Donnell, Liam (ISBN-13: 978-1592492985)

Swimmy. Lionni, Leo (ISBN-13: 978-0394826202)

The Lorax. Dr. Seuss (ISBN-13: 978-0394823370) 

Related Science TEKS

(1.2A) Ask Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events observed in the natural world.

(1.2B) Plan and Conduct Descriptive Investigations
The student is expected to plan and conduct simple descriptive investigations such as ways objects move.

(1.2E) Communicate Observations
The student is expected to communicate observations with others about simple descriptive investigations.

Related Math TEKS

1.11C   Select or develop an appropriate problem-solving plan or strategy including drawing a picture, looking for a pattern, systematic guessing and checking, or acting it out in order to solve a problem.

1.11D  Use tools such as real objects, manipulatives, and technology to solve problems.

1.12A  Explain and record observations using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology.

1.13A  Justify his or her thinking using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology. 

Additional Resources

Don’t Mess with Texas: Texas Department of Transportation (website) - Learn how to help keep Texas litter free and raise awareness of the need to dispose of trash properly. Click the links at the top of the page for different ways to help solve the litter problem.

Texas Department of Transportation
Don’t Mess with Texas,

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