Science Explanations in Plain English

Filed Under (science) by Lee Kolbert on 19-05-2010

I’ve always loved the way the folks at CommonCraft, with their “In Plain English” series, use paper cut-outs to give simple explanations about not-so-simple things. The CommonCraft-like videos we created a few weeks ago were created by my 3rd block class. They were all on the same topic, The Reason For The Seasons. They did a great job on the videos and learned a lot about their topic in the process of creating their videos.

After going through the process with that class, I decided to let my 1st and 2nd block do similar projects, but this time gave each group a different topic that basically covered the most difficult ideas from this year’s science curriculum.

I’m also very excited to announce that Lee LeFever from CommonCraft has agreed to videoconference with my class next week. Lee and his wife, Sachi, comprise the entire company of CommonCraft and produce all their own videos from start to finish. My students will have the unique opportunity to “meet” and ask questions of Lee and they are already generating their questions.

So here are the latest videos. I will post them as they are created. I hope you enjoy them. Please leave a comment.

How Land Features Affect The Water Cycle by Alayna, Brett and Carly.

It’s Rocktastic by Jordana, Noah, Hannah and KimWhat Are Mineral Resources? by Gabby, Rachel and Julianna

Wild Weather by Lilly, Jordan and Jessica

The Water Cycle by Ryan, Raegan and Isabella

Spoil The Soil (the role of soil) by Julia, Ethan and Brooke

Weathering and Erosion By Elly, Ashley and Jenna

18 Comments Already, Leave Yours Too

Gordon Shupe on 20 May, 2010 at 7:52 am #

And here all this time, I though humus was ground chickpeas… now I know!

Congratulations on a job well done Ms. Kolbert and her co-teacher/learners!

Jordana on 20 May, 2010 at 8:05 am #

Good job guys i can really tell you worked hard on those videos!!! 🙂

Mr. Slack on 20 May, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

You all did an amazing job on these projects. It is very obvious that you did your research and worked well in your respective groups. I think I see some future Scientists in the making. Either way you will all do a great job as fifth graders and really make Waters Edge Shine on the 5th Grade Science FCAT.

Hall Davidson on 25 May, 2010 at 11:54 am #

These are wonderful! I wish we had them in the California Student Media Festival. They would have been winners? What was the hardest thing about making them? Were you surprised by anything?

Eileen Messing on 25 May, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

Wow, girls! Nice work! Watch out, Fifth Grade, here you come!

raegan F. on 25 May, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

We are very proud of you Raegan! You always take whatever is handed to you and make it shine! You are a true leader! xoxox,
Mommy & Daddy

Maria C on 25 May, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

nice job on the videos, they are awesome

wayne tucker on 25 May, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

Excellent guys!!

Tammi Stein on 25 May, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

Those are amazing!!
I learned so much 🙂 !!
I am really proud of ALL of you – you obviously worked well together……..your end products are fabulous!!

Ivy & Steve Kaufman on 25 May, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

We really enjoyed your video on mineral resources. Great drawings! Your hard work sure payed off!

Melinda Rossler on 26 May, 2010 at 9:36 am #

Great job on the science videos! They were very informative and fun to watch.

Marci Kahn on 26 May, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

Thanks for sharing your wonderful class video on mineral resources. It was great to see how creative all of you are. It looks like you had a lot of fun creating it while learning at the same time. I’m very proud of all of your hard work.

Madison G. on 28 May, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

I’m madison i’m from the maxclass or Mr. Millers class. I just wanted to say these are amazing! I love to read your students blog posts.

Madison G.

Wesley Fryer on 3 June, 2010 at 12:01 am #

Super job, students!!! I particularly enjoyed “Wild Weather” by Lilly, Jordan and Jessica since that was my car you showed with hail damage, and my 12 year old son holding hail we received in Oklahoma City about 2 weeks ago. You might be interested that the hail did $4100.00 of damage to my car! It went into the repair shop this past Tuesday, and it will probably take 2 weeks to get it fixed. I was lucky to get my car in so soon. Thousands of cars in Oklahoma City were damaged by that storm, which in some areas rained hail the size of golfballs for 20 minutes! This YouTube video shows the same hailstorm in another location – it was pretty incredible.

I’m curious how you posted these videos here, Mrs. Kolbert?! I’d love to embed the wild weather one on my blog… but I’m guessing you did this with a direct upload to, and embedding on other sites is not available?


[…] Science Explanations in Plain English […]

Darren Kuropatwa on 9 June, 2010 at 10:01 am #

These videos are great! As I was watching them I also imagined what it must have been like putting it all together … planning your “storyline, drawing and cutting out the images, deciding on what you were going to say (I particularly liked the little aside comments like “Don’t forget your umbrella!” that included a picture of an umbrella.), and finally shooting the video; which was probably the least time consuming part of all, no?

Although the videos were short (I REALLY like that about them; it made me want more!) it seems to me you must have studied and learned a lot in order to make them. You all spoke so naturally during the videos; you came across as very knowledgeable.

I was just telling a colleague of mine here (I work for the Manitoba Department of Education in Canada) what you all did, and as I started listing all the topics on material you all shared here I realized again just how much you all must have learned doing this! (It took me longer to explain than one of your videos!)

You guys metamorphic Rock!

Ms. M on 10 June, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

I am writing the science curriculum for my school district next year and had come across your site. I absolutely love it! I am writing a lesson plan similar to what you did here with your kids! Thank you so much for this great idea!

Danny on 11 June, 2010 at 8:54 am #

these are excellent! thanks for sharing, and well done to all involved 🙂