A simple way to integrate science into ESOL /ABE classes is to have the class watch an experiment on YouTube or TeacherTube. Depending on the level of the class and its needs, you can do this for simple listening practice, writing instruction, or having students replicate this or another experiment.
Here is an experiment that begins with a question: Why does an orange float in water but sink if peeled?
- To start, ask students to predict what will happen if you drop two oranges in water, one peeled and another with its skin on. You might want to introduce the word “hypothesis,” if you haven’t already. Put this word and any others on the board as you move through this activity.
- Use a projector and show the video to the whole class, stopping when the screen asks the question, “Why does this happen?”
- Have students try it themselves, if they are so inclined (and you brought in the materials), perhaps videotaping it.
- Before restarting the video, ask the class to brainstorm and generate possible answers. Before you show the answer, ask them to take a vote on all the suggestions. Make sure there has been some discussion of why they think an answer is correct.
- Show them the rest of the video and discuss any questions or thoughts they might have.
- Then ask the class to write instructions for children they know, so that they can involve others and repeat the experiment at home. They can create the “How-To” steps in a PowerPoint or write an instructional guide. See How to Write an Instructional Outline. If your class is doing more advanced writing, ask them to create this in essay form using transition words.
- Ask students to try the experiment at home or tell others how to do it.
- Wrap up on this activity by discussing how the demonstration went at home. Now ask the following question and see how they come up with the answer: Why do eggs sometimes float?
- Investigate how or why other objects float or don’t.
- Have students do another experiment and make a video or demonstrate it to the class.
Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).