To assess the 4th graders on our most recent Core Knowledge unit, Magnets and Electricity, the class was given a challenge to create their own experiment based on static electricity, magnetism and/or electricity. First, the 4th graders had to formulate a question, then search through the classroom and at home for electricity and magnet supplies. Next,each student worked through the procedure and observed their results. Finally, they had to write a thorough conclusion, explaining the science behind what they observed.
Examples of questions chosen:
Can a comb move water? (static electricity)
How does a switch work? (open vs. closed circuits)
What can a magnetic force work through? (magnetism)
Can you make confetti dance? (magnetism)
All steps of the experiment were written down in either a poster form, slideshow form or in a lab report. The concluding task was to present their experiment to at least one other student in class. Once again, I was just a guide and monitor. The 4th graders were in charge and engaged in their own scientific discoveries.