Begin this lesson by reviewing the steps scientists use when they conduct investigations. Remind students that it is important that their investigations try to answer a question. Place the footsteps (S-1-6-1_Scientific Method Steps.doc) on the board one at a time.
Read the story Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler, a rhyming story about a toad that gets stuck to gum found in the road. As the story continues, other animals stick to the gum and a truck is coming. After reading this story, ask students the following questions
- “Was there a problem in this story?”
- “Did the animals solve the problem?”
- “Did the animals do an investigation?”
“They solved the problem but may not have conducted a science investigation.” Ask students if they ever had a problem and see if they discovered a solution. Have students share with a peer and then continue the discussion with the whole class. “Let’s see if we can ask a question, conduct an investigation, and find an answer or solution.”
The Story of Bubble Gum
Tell students they are going to listen to a short story about another scientist. “This scientist also lived in Pennsylvania. His name was Walter Diemer. Listen as I read a story about him:”
Walter Diemer was not a scientist in the beginning. He worked in an office as an accountant in a chewing gum company. Chewing gum, when it was first made, was very sticky and no one ever blew a bubble with chewing gum. Walter liked to invent things. He liked to make things work better for people. One day he was trying to solve a problem. His chewing gum was so sticky he wanted to come up with a recipe for gum that wasn’t sticky. He came up with a recipe and it wasn’t sticky, but he noticed something else about it. It would stretch and had bubbles in it. He took a piece of the new gum and chewed it. He tried to blow a bubble and he did. He blew more bubbles. Soon he took his new invention and showed it to others. He taught them how to blow bubbles. More and more people and children wanted the new bubble gum. Soon Walter was not working as an accountant and everyone was buying Double Bubble Chewing Gum. Walter had a question, planned a way to solve it, conducted investigations, and found a solution. Sometimes when scientists are conducting investigations they find new answers or different answers. That is how we get new things: they are invented.
After reading the story, tell students they are going to use the steps, or the scientific method, to conduct an investigation. Ask students “How many of you have blown bubbles? How did you do that?” Students may tell how they have used bubble solution to blow bubbles.
Read Bubble, Bubble by Mercer Mayer. The illustrations show animals created by the bubbles that a little boy is blowing. Hold up a bottle of bubble solution or make your own bubble solution (S-1-6-2_Bubble Making Recipe.doc). “I have this bubble solution, but I don’t have anything to make my bubbles. Do you think we could do an investigation to see if we could make bubbles using some different things? What do you think we could use?” Show students a slotted spoon, a polystyrene cup, pipe cleaners, straws, string, berry baskets, a clean fly swatter, and plastic rings from a six pack of soda. “Look at these things; I wonder if we can make bubbles using them.”
Tell students that they will be placed into groups of four, and each group will have a chance to investigate how each tool makes bubbles. Chart on paper or board the steps for investigating to remind students of the steps.
- Organize students into groups of four (group size may be modified depending on materials).
- Organize tools so one of each item is available per group.
- Pour a fraction of the bubble recipe into smaller containers for each group.
- Take students outside and have them conduct an investigation.
- Allow groups time to try out each tool and come up with ways they could change the tool to make it work better for the task.
Let students explore using these objects. After awhile give students some direction on how they might use these objects:
- Bend pipe cleaners into shapes.
- Thread the string through two straws; then tie the string at the ends. The straws become handles.
- Cut a large hole in the bottom of the polystyrene cup and have students dip this end in the bubble solution.
Give students time to explore using the different tools. Ask questions throughout to have students think about the scientific process.
After students have returned to the classroom, review the steps of the scientific method and ask: “What steps did we use when we conducted our investigation? How was our investigation like the investigation of Walter Diemer (the inventor of bubble gum)? Did we have a question? Did we have a plan? Did we conduct an investigation? Did we find the answer to our question?”
- Students who might be going beyond the standards can find other materials that can be used as a bubble wand.
- Students who might be going beyond the standards can create and compare different solutions to determine the best bubble solution.
- Students who need additional opportunities for learning can state a question about something they observed and plan how to answer the question.