How can I do this project with my students?
A. Teachers could do the project with the whole class and pick some projects to continue on to the MSSS fair. Allow about 5-6 weeks if you can spend 4 hours on it a week. For report card purposes, it ties into the art curriculum (students make plasticine models of their aliens), the LA curriculum viewing websites, reading, writing informative text, preparing oral reports and the science curriculum. Students will also need time at home to complete work or build the alien.
B. Teachers can also do this project as an enrichment activity with a smaller group of students.
C. Teachers could also do this activity as a lunch hour or after school club. Have one session in February to discuss the project and the location. Then have a second session the week after where students have to come back with a color plan of their alien. Then allow them 2-3 weeks to make their alien at home (or if you like, at school). After three weeks, students return with their aliens and you hold 3-4 other sessions focusing on the various body systems. For example, you could cover the five senses and locomotion in one 45-minute session and then the students work on these two areas and bring in their rough copies on these for the following sessions. Then you could do respiration. Usually it is a good idea to bring in books and pictures of how humans and other lower class animals breathe and then let them choose how they want their animal to respire. This should be linked to the gases and atmosphere of the planet. For example, if the animal breathes oxygen and the planet has a small quantity of this gas in its atmosphere, the creature’s lungs might have to be large. If it breathes in another gas, what does it breath out? Reproduction is usually the last section covered and provokes many giggles. Explain why it is very important (to promote diversity, to have better resistance to disease, to mix genes). Present many models – like asexual reproduction, budding, laying eggs and then sexual reproduction. All the good copies should be completed and attached to the backboard in an aesthetically pleasing fashion by early April at the latest. This will allow you time to judge the projects and submit entries on time.
Aliens and the Curriculum
Connections to the Science Curriculum:
According to the Pan-Canadian Protocol for science education (1997) and the Manitoba Science Foundation for Implementation documents (1999 and 2000), this project integrates into the following areas:
Grade 4 – Habitats and Communities
Grade 5 – Maintaining Healthy Body
Grade 6 –Diversity of Living Things
Exploring the Solar System
Grade 7 – The Earths Crust
Interactions within Ecosystems
Grade 8 – Cells and Systems
Grade 9 – Reproduction
The project respects many elements of the design process where students identify a problem to solve (build and Alien who could live at the location), research, plan what their alien should look like, develop the criteria (some are given in that they have to know the senses, reproduction locomotion, etc but other constraints like using recycled materials and cost could be added by the teacher), construct the prototype alien and with further information on biological systems they need to make or explain via diagrams improvements that could help it live where it does and then they communicate their findings to others.
Other Subject Areas:
- Planning, researching and representing and presentation skills
- According to Bloom’s Taxonomy this project requires higher level thinking skills like analysing, synthesizing and evaluation
- Working with measurement
- Fabricating three-dimensional objects