How do snowflakes form? Are no two snowflakes really alike? How in the world can you actually see the details of a snowflake? Won’t it melt when you look at it? How in the world do you get a snowflake under a microscope? (And I guess you need a better camera than on my cell phone to photograph a snowflake…I gave up!)
And if this turns into a craft project creating paper snowflakes, maybe discussing multiplication after each cut – if I cut one shape into four folds, what is the multiplication problem and how many shapes did I cut – mores the better!
Oh…and whose paw prints are in the snow on my patio? (Another authentic project – classifying paw prints!)
*This was my snowflake photo…you can see why I gave up!
What causes snow? How does snow form? At what temperature does snow form?
Rain, freezing rain, ice, snow…what happens to cause each of these?
Are there different types of snow? What are the best conditions to build a snowman?
These prompts could also lead to authentic projects about how artificial ice and snow are made? Maybe even the creation of a working model artificial ice rink or ski slope…
Or…how is snow made for all the holiday specials on television when it snows exactly when the script says it should?
I live in a northern climate and absolutely love the snow. Snow means hot chocolate, warm fireplaces, and catching up on my reading!
Quilt by Chris Staver
Finding sources of energy on our planet is a huge issue. Very few people don’t agree that we need to move to renewable and clean sources of energy. What does that even mean, “renewable?” What are current sources of “clean” energy? What are all the different ways we get energy today?
Solar energy, wind turbines, fracking, oil, coal, water, wood… How do all of these provide energy, how do they work? What are the pros and cons with each source? What other ways might we get energy? How can we conserve energy?
Lots of authentic energy topics to learn about and explore.
How did the story of Santa’s reindeer start? Are there real reindeer? Where do you find reindeer? Did Santa’s reindeer always include Rudolph? Do any of the other reindeer have special stories?
Write a new story about Santa’s reindeer. Write a poem. Draw a picture…
Create a new authentic way (make-believe qualifies) for Santa to pull his sleigh…
The Nutcracker. What is the history of the Nutcracker? What country did the Nutcracker originate in? How did the Nutcracker become associated with the holidays?
Design a Nutcracker. Start a photo journal of unique Nutcrackers. Make an authentic Nutcracker…
Most Nutcrackers are carved from wood. What are other wooden toys? How did toys of the past differ from toys of the present? (Authentic projects start with one topic and frequently evolve to another topic.)
Major cities provide tons of authentic topics for teaching, learning, and exploration. Why did a city end up where it did? Boston definitely developed as a major sea port. Were there other factors that influenced the growth of Boston? New York City? London? Beijing?
What are the reasons that a city developed in a certain spot? Water access, train lines, topography, climate, tourism, historical events…
Are those reasons changing today? What determined the growth/decline of cities of the past? What determines the growth/decline of cities today? What might determine the growth/decline of cities in the future?
It would be interesting to chart/graph the growth/decline of cities in the past and present. Maybe even adding into the chart/graph the reasons for the growth/decline…
And how about designing an authentic city for the future…
What a gorgeous fall morning! Couldn’t resist this picture. So, are these clouds? Fog? What is the difference between clouds and fog? We had had a ton of rain the day before. Did the wet conditions contribute to this? Also, we live up in the mountains. Did altitude contribute to this?
What causes clouds? What causes fog? Can this effect be reproduced in an experiment inside a controlled environment? Is the composition of my photo any good? How could I take a better photo? What makes a photo interesting. (Feedback appreciated. I enter my photos in our county fair every summer and I love ribbons!) Authentic jumping off point for several projects…