“Engage” With the Discovery Education Science TECHBOOK

The vast array of resources found in the Discovery Education Science TECHBOOK are arranged according the the 5E Learning Model. The 5E Learning Model is a component of the constructivist learning philosophy which holds that students learn best when they are exposed to experiences that allow them to build their own understanding of a concept before it is explained to them. Typically, the 5E Learning Model is composed of lesson components that can be categorized under one of 5 “Es”. Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend and Evaluate. This article will focus on Engage.

Engage activities should be designed with two main purposes in mind. First, they should activate a student’s prior knowledge of the science concept. Every student comes to the classroom with life experiences and prior knowledge that we can use to help them make connections. By activating that prior knowledge, we give them foundation on which they can build their understanding. With that foundation, they have something on which they can “stick” future learning. The second purpose of an Engage activity is to generate interest and curiosity regarding the concept. Building in an opportunity to ask “why” or “how” about the science encourages students to dig further and want to learn more. Let’s look at some ideas for Engage type activities using two different types of Discovery Education Science resources.

Videos: Videos have been used in educational settings for a long time. There are, however, strategies for showing videos with the explicit purpose of being an Engage activity.

  1. Show a short video segment that is very visual regarding the concept with the sound turned off. Ask the students to watch the video and then have a discussion about what they think will be discussed in class that day. Have them interpret what they saw and/or explain to you what they already know about the concept.
  2.  There are many videos in DE Science TECHBOOK that set students up to make predictions. One video series that is perfect for that is “Head Rush” with Kari Byron from the Mythbusters series. In “Head Rush” Kari shows scientific experiments and asks the students to predict what will occur. A great way to Engage is to show these videos and stop them before the results are revealed.

Images: Images are a very powerful tool when it comes to prompting imagination and activating prior knowledge.

  1. Choose and image that displays an aspect of the scientific concept. Ask the student’s what they “see”, what they “know” and what they “wonder” about the image.
  2.  Choose an image that has a lot of detail and zoom into one section of the image. Ask the students to describe what they think will be discussed today based on what they see.

Songs: Students are very engaged by music and songs. Playing a science based song found in the DE TECHBOOK is a great way to generate interest in a topic. Allowing students to listen to the song and report back what they know about the topic in the song will also allow you to activate prior knowledge

Got an “Engage” activity to share?  Post it in the comments below, we would love to hear all about it!



  1. Mark Duffy said:

    One activity that I use is for the beginning of a water unit to discuss the usefulness of water for humans. I would fill 4 jars of water with
    1) potasium permanganate ( purple color and poison – acutally purple food color)
    2) water with alcohol
    3) river water from the local river
    4) “muddy” water (hot chocolate, liquid coffee, and anything else to make it “look” ugly)

    it is to show that LOOKS can’t be used for telling quality of water. Kids get discusted when I drink the water in jar 4.
    Then we can discuss what makes quality water. where does it come from etc.

  2. Derek Sale said:

    An engaging activity for bell work is to give the students an assignment that shows a short video segment on minerals and a visual image of mica. Ask the students to watch the video and read the description of the iamge of mica. They can write foru lines telling you what mica is (a mineral), some of its physical properties (nearly see through when cut into thin sheets) and what it was once used for(window panes).

  3. kunjan said:

    I love all activities but I will use videos for my students to see, when they take their quiz.

  4. Bridget said:

    I enjoy using the sound effects for my students to introduce a new concept. For example if I use the sounds of the storm . Then I would ask the students to identify the sound. What do they already know about storms? What types of storms are there? and what do you want to know about storms?

  5. Patti Duncan said:

    I love sound effects too. They are GREAT ways to engage students and get them thinking!

  6. Patti Duncan said:

    I too love sound effects!! They are a great way to engage students and get them thinking!

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