Sixth Grade Physical Science
I took over two sixth grade physical science classes as
a long-term substitute in April 2002. The classes contained 12-15 students.
Unlike the seventh grade classes, these students stayed together throughout
the day as a unit. There were two sixth grade teachers who taught math,
writing, reading and social sciences. I only met with each sixth grade
class twice a week for one 80-minute period and one 40-minute period.
I usually used this format to do an interactive lab during the 80-minute
period and used the 40-minute period for follow-up.
Both sixth grade classes had more than twice as many girls
as boys. I found that this gender imbalance, along with the developmental
level of the students, created an energetic, but often unruly class dynamic.
There were a wide range of abilities and styles of learning within the
classes, which also made them challenging to strucure. I found that students
were best able to work in a productive way when the class began with a
short group introduction/problem solving session and the rest of the class
was used for independent or small group work.
A poster from a student oral presentation on how woodwinds
produce musical sounds.
For the first four weeks, I introduced the studentsto
the topic of sound, covering the following concepts and information:
- Describing and characterizing sounds
- Sound waves (frequency and amplitude)
- Changes in sound waves (pitch and loudness)
- Music vs. Noise
- Musical Instruments (resonance, natural frequencies
- The Ear (form and function)
Results from an experiment testing auditory acuity in
different ears when the sound comes from differnt angles
Percussion, Winds and Srings
Sample Lesson: Testing for the Mozart
At the end of the unit on sound and music, I wanted the students to be
able to take the concepts that they had learned in class during the previous
weeks and apply them to a new situation. I wanted them to be involved
in the scientific process and to practice their critical thinking skills.
I also wanted to create a fun activity that would capture the students'
- All students will be involved in the scientific process at the levels
of forming a hypothesis, designing elements of an experiment and collecting
and analyzing data.
- All students will understand the importance of critically examining
the results of scientific experiments, including those conducted by
- All students will have an understanding of what the Mozart Effect
Lesson 1: Testing for the Mozart Effect (40 min)
** Note: Students received a reading describing the Mozart Effect,
the experiments done to test for it and the skepticism surrounding the
phenomenon. For homework, they did the reading and answered four questions
about it. They were also asked to bring in a CD or tape of their favorite
click here to view
Music, Mind and Intelligence reading and homework questions
click here to view Mozart Effect Lab Instructions
- Ask students to take out the homework reading and questions. Go over
the questions as a class, making sure that all students have an understanding
of what the Mozart Effect is, why some people think it exists and why
others are skeptical of its existence. Ask them to express their own
opinions and ideas.
- Tell the students that we are going to test for the Mozart Effect
in our own class. Ask them to get out their music.
- Have the students select, as a class, two tapes or CDs to use
in testing for the Mozart Effect. Have them express why they think these
two types of music will be interesting to study.
- Give the students the handout describing what they will do for the
lab and go over the directions with them.
- Each student should form a hypothesis about under which conditions
they think that the class a whole will perform the best on memory and
IQ problems and WHY.
- Take the class to the computer room, where each student has his/her
- Students should link to Queendom.com (www.queendom.com/mindgames/mindstretching/allgames.htm),
a website that has sets of memory/IQ problems that they can solve individually
and then will be scored for them.
- Students solve sets of problems under the following conditions and
record their scores:
- Music Type 2 (selected by students)
- Music Type 3 (selected by students)
- Students return to the classroom and record their scores on a large
data sheet. We then average the scores for each condition.
Lesson 2: Analyzing the Data (40 min)
click here to view Data Analysis Intructions
- When the students come into class, we look at the class averages
under each condition and discuss the following questions:
- Under which conditions did the class do the best? The worst?
- Do these results surprise you or did they agree with your hypothesis?
- Was this difference large or small between the different averages?
- Why do you think that we got these results?
- Do they support or fail to support the existence of the Mozart
- What would you do differently if we did this experiment again.
- Next, ask students to work independently to:
- Make a graph that shows the average scores.
- Write out answers to the questions discussed above in a handout.
- Do a sample graph at the board stressing:
- Meaningful use of color
- Neatness and legibility
- Label axes
- Meaningful title
- Allow students to work for the rest of the class on the graph and
questions, which they will turn in at the end of the period for evaluation.
Class data chart showing average percent
problems correct under different musical conditions
Samples of Student work :