According to the NEA, the Four Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) are the pillars of 21 stcentury learning. One perfect way to simultaneously engage students in each of the four Cs is through science. By incorporating hands-on, authentic science activities into your classroom, kids will problem solve like real scientists; build communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills; and have fun doing it!
There are endless engaging, authentic science activities that teach the four Cs, but we put together a list of a few of our favorites.
Solving a Crime
Creating a crime scene in your classroom is a cool way to teach students how to investigate, gather, and analyze evidence. It also allows students to engage in the real-world work of forensic scientists. In this Fingered Felons activity for grades 3-8, students focus on the importance of fingerprints and DNA to solve a crime that happened in their own classroom. You can even extend your crime scene lesson across subjects by tying the investigation to an historical event like this Boston Massacre example.
Saving a Life:
A great breaking-the-ice activity for the first day of school, while also introducing the scientific method, this Saving Sam activity challenges kids to save a life. In this activity, Sam—a gummy worm—is stuck on top of a capsized boat in the middle of a large body of water. Sam can’t swim, and his life jacket is stuck underneath the boat. Without touching Sam, the boat, or the life jacket with their hands, students will need to collaborate with their peers to get Sam safely inside his life jacket.
Saving the World:
Engage students in the work of environmental scientists by recreating this Oil Spill activity. In this activity, students collaborate with their peers to figure out how to remove oil from a small body of water. As students brainstorm and problem solve, you can extend the learning by familiarizing them with real-life scientists who work to remove oil from oceans.
This Lego Ice Excavation Activity is perfect for introducing younger kids to early physics concepts—like changing states of matter—as they problem solve like real-life archeologists. Using only the materials offered to them, students must figure out how to safely remove a sacred artifact (i.e., a Lego) from a block of ice.