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Problem Solving

Problem Solving

TEKS Objective

The student is expected to identify and explain a problem such as the impact of littering on the playground 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

Problem Solving: (website) - A major goal of education is to help students learn in ways that enable them to use what they have learned to solve problems in new situations.  This article defines problem solving, the kinds of knowledge students need to solve problems, and ways to successfully teach problem solving.

Problem Solving
By Richard Mayer and Merlin Wittrock,

Scientists at Play - Teaching Science Process Skills: Science in School (website) - This is an article for teachers of all grade levels that provides with many strategies to solve problems in science.

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

Problem Solving: The Art of Teaching Science (website) – This article explores different kinds of thinking and problem solving skills.  It makes the distinction between basic skills (those which provide a foundation for science) and integrated skills (higher-level skills which demonstrate a deeper understanding of problem solving and scientific investigation).

Problem Solving
The Art of Teaching Science,

Signature Lesson

The Litterbug: Cleanup Australia (PDF) - Students conduct a liter audit in which they collect data on where litter is and what kinds of litter there are at your school.Then, they organize an anti-litter campaign where they use this data to try to creatively put an end to the problem of littering at their school.

The Litterbug
Cleanup Australia,

Supporting Lessons

Paper Bridge: PBS Kids (website) – Do you think you can make a paper bridge that will support 100 pennies? Propose a solution to solve this problem.

Paper Bridge
PBS Kids,

Trash Goes to School – Solid Waste Activities Grades K-3: Cornell Waste Management Institute (website)  – Choose from a variety of investigations in which to identify and explain a problem and propose a solution.

Trash Goes to School - Solid Waste Activities Grades K-3
Cornell Waste Management Institute

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

The Litterbug Extension Activities: Cleanup Australia (PDF) – In this extension lesson (under the “Lower Primary” heading), students draw pictures of their school before and after their anti-litter campaign.

The Litterbug Extension Activities
Cleanup Australia,

Assessment Ideas

Ask each student to verbally explain how they will help keep their playground litter free. Have them draw two rectangles. One rectangle will represent a playground that is litter free and the other one, a playground that is not litter free. Tell them to use pictures from magazines, newspapers or drawings. 

Literature Connections

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss, (ISBN-13: 978-0007305827)

What is a Scientist? Lehn, Barbara, (ISBN-13: 978-0761312987)

Scientists Ask Questions. Garrett, Ginger, (ISBN-13: 978-0516246628)

What is Science? Dotlich, Rebecca Kai, (ISBN-13: 978-0805073942)

Related Science TEKS

(K.2A) Ask Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events observed in the natural world.

(K.2D) Record and Organize Data & Observations
The student is expected to record and organize data and observations using pictures, numbers, and words.

(K.2E) Communicate Observations
The student is expected to communicate observations with others about simple descriptive investigations.

Related Math TEKS

K.13B Solve problems with guidance that incorporates the processes of understanding the problem, making a plan, carrying out the plan, and evaluating the solution for reasonableness.

K.15A Justify his or her thinking using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology. 

Additional Resources

How to Teach Science Activities: (website) – This article describes simple teaching techniques which can engage and motivate students in science education and activities.

How to Teach Science Activities

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