Studying bugs at Ridge Park Elementary
Ridge Park second graders looking at silkworms.

Bugs play a large role in helping second graders understand the world around them. In science class, the students followed five living organisms for several weeks to observe different stages and learn about the basic needs of living things.

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"It's important to study bugs, so the next time there's a bug in your house, you know bugs are really important, so you know not to squish it and help it get out," said Talya, a second grader in the class. "Because if we didn't have bugs, we wouldn't have any food to eat, so insects are a really big part of the world."

What living things need

The main purpose of the lesson is to show how all living things need the same four things to survive.

"Even though we're looking at plants vs. insects, there's a commonality between all of them that they all need air, they all need water, they all need food, and they all need shelter of some sort," said Anne Pearsall, second grade teacher at Ridge Park Elementary School. "And the kids are able to figure this out, discuss it and identify it."

The five living organisms included in the unit are the brassica plant, meal worms, milkweed bugs, silkworms, and painted lady larvae.

Talya thought the painted lady larvae were interesting. "Eventually, they will turn into painted lady butterflies," she said. "Now they're being very slow, because they're about to go into the chrysalis stage."

The students travel through different stations around the classroom to explore the different organisms and write about them in their science notebooks.

Documenting what they see and learn in their science notebooks

The children learn how to use basic science tools like hand lenses.

"A science notebook is so we could record things that we see while they change and see what the difference is from last time. See if it's the same or not," said a second grader named Ruthie.

Science notebooking is their foundation of their science exploration in Colonial.

"It allows them to use it not only as a just place to record their ideas and what they observe but also to use as a tool to reference when they make another connection or find out something new," said Ms. Pearsall.

Science notebooking is one example of how elementary lessons help the children work on their skills from other subject areas as well. The second graders use text features that they learn for writing nonfiction pieces to explain what they see in science. They also collect data about the insects, like how many legs there are, and use math to make bar graphs. On the science end, the experiments also help the students learn basic lab safety and how to use science tools like the hand lenses.

"My personal favorite part about the lesson is the excitement that I see -- through the way they speak with each other, the ah-ha moments they get while they're using those hand lenses and get up close and personal," said Ms. Pearsall. "I never have to struggle and get them focused and ready to go when they're about to start science. I'd say if they could learn science all day, they would do it."

Studying bugs at Ridge Park Elementary
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