Life Science Investigation Update: Week 4 and Conclusions

Week 0
Recap: Week 0
Week 1
Recap: Week 1
Week 2
Recap: Week 2
Week 3
Recap: Week 3
Week 3
Recap: Week 3
Week 4
Most Recently: Week 4

I’ll state the obvious: my beans didn’t grow. In fact, the only thing that did grow was the white, moisture-loving mold and even that started to die off during this last week. I may not be the “green thumb” I initially thought I was. Here are my final conclusions:

  1. The experiment failed to accurately identify an ideal soil depth for the beans to grow. However, other critical elements were illuminated by this experiment.
  2. I now believe that sunlight is the most essential element in plant growth. Or at least it was in my case.
  3. Overwatering plants can cause rapid changes in their growth. Over the course of a few days, my promising embryos died off and were encased in a white mold.
  4. Plants, like humans, react to their environments. Evidence of this can be seen in the previous points (i.e. abundance or lack of sunlight and water).

However, there are so many more takeaways from this experience than the end results, both as a learner and as a teacher. As a learner, I undoubtedly learned the life science content, (i.e. plants need sunlight and water to grow), but I also learned the importance of using my science notebook as a tool. All of my frustrations, observations and questions found their way into my notebook. I found myself utilizing this tool more than expected. 

As a teacher I realized that failure is an extremely beneficial component of learning. Often times we read about the importance of failure but never get to experience it ourselves. It was extremely frustrating to watch my plants refuse to grow, but this frustration sparked beneficial questions and extensions. Because my plants didn’t grow, I asked myself “why” more often than I may have if my plants were flourishing. I started to wonder about the amount of sunlight my plants were receiving, which led to my discovery (See photos above or Week 3 Post) during week 3.

All of these realizations speak to the importance of approaching science as an inquiry-based content area. You cannot “teach science” without “doing science.” I would not have made the connections I did without conducting the investigation myself. The hands-on investigation format allowed me to dive into the material more than I would have in a passive setting.

However, I also believe that the whole investigation is representative of education and learning as a whole. Failure is and extremely beneficial part of learning, but sometimes this is forgotten and replaced instead with a simple letter grade: “F.” My failure was not for lack of effort. In fact, I made a stronger effort, developed strong questions and attempted new strategies as a result of my failure. There is always more to the story than the end result. This is my greatest take away from the life science investigation.

 

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