I have loved using this project at the end of the year, after testing is complete, and I really want to give students the opportunity to take a topic of choice and run with it. I also think this project would work in the back-to-school transition time, to really help me get to know the students interests and motivations. I could even see using this project with a specific unit of study. I've really just had so much fun with it.
This activity, because it allows the students complete freedom of choice, engages them, and by that I mean that they get consumed by it, want to work endlessly on it, and are sincerely interested in their own and others’ work. In this activity, students are given free choice to choose to study any science topic. It does not have to be related to our course topics from the current year, but you can change that. Many of them are interested in science-related careers, and this is a perfect opportunity for them to explore those interests. The students have to get their topics approved by me, and I discourage duplication. Otherwise, the topic range is wide open.
This six-page product includes a choice menu for the students’ products as well as a generic rubric for the product, all in Rich Text Format, which is compatible with any word processing program and can be edited by you as needed. This activity I designed for my sixth-grade students, but it can work for any grade level because the complexity can be scaled appropriately, which the rubrics allow as is. The best part is that it has plenty of room for the students to propose modifications, and for you to allow that differentiation as you like. Can they work in pairs or trios? It’s up to you. Can they propose a product choice that’s not listed on the menu? That’s up to you, which is why I’ve included a “Free Choice” space that you can remove. Do they have to just submit one product? Again, it’s up to you, depending on your timeline. I’ve had them complete only one product, and I’ve had them complete more than one, either on the same topic or on different topics. It’s as flexible as you are.
The end results? In the past, I’ve gotten a detailed paper model of an oil rig, an edible model of goosebumps, an artifact collection demonstrating Fibonacci in nature, a short story written from the perspective of a human organ, a PowerPoint summarizing research about why people choose junk food over healthy food, a home video of a student demonstrating a veterinary checkup on a dog, and an original sculpture accompanied by an explanation of how physical forces and Newton’s laws keep the sculpture in balance… all from this same assignment! I love it!
This product easily lends itself to alignment with state science standards and also to the Common Core Standards for technical subjects. Aligned Common Core Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6