Spring Detectives

Author: Michaela Elena Balint

Happy Kids Kindergarten & Discovery Kids Primary School from Ramnicu Valcea, joined STEM Discovery Campaign 2020, as a partner school, for the third consecutive year. “Spring Detectives” started as a regular school project at the beginning of March and only a few days later our teachers were forced by the pandemic to re-organise the project, change plans and move the entire activity to the online environment.

The proposed topics were:

  • Birdology
  • Insectigations
  • Spring’s magical seeds
  • Science in the kitchen,
  • Little Meteorologist

Here are the examples of the activities carried out for the first two topics Birdology and Insectigations:

  • observation and identification of birds nearby the house (garden, backyard, green space): sparrow, pigeon, mole, crow, stork, woodpecker, gull, hawk.
  • observation, grouping and describing the characteristics of the feathers: size, contour of feathers, flakes: light, fine, elastic/rigid, long/short, with rounded or sharp edges. Identification of colours and patterns of the plumage. The scientific vocabulary was introduced.
  • making comparisons between two types of birds, e.g. sparrow and pigeon, identifying differences and similarities.
  • observation and description of characteristics of birds: shape and size of beak, wingspan; adaptation of the bird’s beak to the type of food; position of the eyes; motions – walking, jumping; sounds produced by birds with their wings.
  • bird watching while feeding or interacting with other birds. Type of bird-specific feed observed. Social behaviour of birds.
  • observation and identification of bugs (insects, spiders, snails) in the environment near the house. Description of observed bugs.
  • making comparisons between two bugs, e.g. the ladybug and the spider
  • drawing a bird/bug when looking at a real bird/bug or an image from a book/encyclopedia.
  • doing research: searching for information about birds and bugs in various sources: books, encyclopedias, children websites.

Science in the kitchen: students ran experiments proposed by the teachers, following instructions and using materials from their kitchen only. Some of them also ran their own experiments inspired by videos found on the Internet, books or by their own imagination. Salt, flour, sugar, baking soda, aluminium foil, paper plates, oil, milk, food colourings, water, vinegar and soft drinks became sources of inspiration and learning resources.

Students took notes and pictures, drew, painted, made crafts. As project-based and inquiry-based learning approach were included in our school routine before, running these type of activities wasn’t something new but students had their share of the challenge and novelty. Parents also offered great support in terms of technicalities. Students had access to the computer, camera, Internet. The activity was closely monitored to ensure the safety of children using the Internet. The same applied regarding the compliance with the time spent in front of the computer allowed for children being at a certain age. We used Zoom, Google Classroom, WhatsApp, Kindle, Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides.

Here are two video files presenting our work:

Here is the link to our Facebook page.