Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
Elementary students, as scientists, use a model to test cause-and-effect relationships between human tire use and its impact on the environment. Students consider and communicate solutions that will reduce human impact on the environment. Students are introduced to a phenomenon by observing photos of inappropriate trash disposal. Students generate noticings and wonderings and begin to consider how they will investigate their questions. Students observe a lake and pollution model to investigate the cause-and- effect relationship between human decisions and pollution. Students then listen to a book and watch several videos outlining how people and NASCAR are trying to reduce the effects they have on the environment. Finally, students return to the original phenomenon and share new ideas they have figured out. Students return to the cause-and-effect graphic organizer to add to their explanation of the effects of human actions on the environment.
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