Constructivism and the 5E's
By: Sally Mankoo, Heather Stella,
Pamela Preiato, Canaan Bump
What is Constructivism?
Constructivism is basically a theory -- based on observation
and scientific study -- about how people learn. It says that
people construct their own understanding and knowledge of
the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on
those experiences. When we encounter something new, we
have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience,
maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the
new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active
creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask
questions, explore, and assess what we know.
The History of Constructivism
Who developed Constructivism?
In this century, Jean Piaget and John Dewey developed
theories of childhood development and education, what we
now call Progressive Education, that led to the evolution of
New perspectives have been added to constructivist
learning theory and practice are: Lev Vygotsky and
Zone of Proximal Development
Vygotsky introduced the social aspect of learning into
constructivism. He defined the "zone of proximal learning,"
according to which students solve problems beyond their
actual developmental level (but within their level of
potential development) under adult guidance or in
collaboration with more capable peers.
Bruner initiated curriculum change based on the notion
that learning is an active, social process in which students
construct new ideas or concepts based on their current
The 5 E's of Constructivism
Engage: Stimulates the learner's curiosity.
Explore: The students have the opportunity to get directly involved with
phenomena and materials.
Explain: The learner begins to put the abstract experience through which
she/he has gone /into a communicable form.
Elaborate: The students expand on the concepts they have learned, make
connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to the
world around them.
Evaluate: On-going diagnostic process that allows the teacher to
determine if the learner has attained understanding of concepts and
Constructivism in the Classroom
In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can
point towards a number of different teaching practices. In
the most general sense, it usually means encouraging
students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world
problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to
reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their
understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure she
understands the students' preexisting conceptions, and
guides the activity to address them and then build on them.
A Constructivist Teacher
Constructivist teachers may:
prompt students to formulate their own questions (inquiry)
allow multiple interpretations and expressions of learning
encourage group work and the use of peers as resources
ask students questions about their own life experiences
allow students to be active participants in their own learning
An Oil Slick - Immiscible Solutions in Water
a "5 E" Model Science Experiment
The teacher will show the students a video that will introduce them to oil spills that have occurred in our environment.
Brief facts will be explained about the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez and the current BP oil spill. The students will be able
to see how the oil sits on top of the water and how visible it is compared to the regular water in the ocean. Oil spills
occur around the world and can be harmful towards marine life and the water they swim in. Students will then have the
chance to create a small oil spill with vegetable oil and cocoa. They will have the opportunity to use different objects
provided for them to separate the oil from the water and discover which works best by observation. Students will also
research the 1990 Exxon Valdez and the 2010 BP oil spills on the computer using Internet explorer and a search engine.
Their task is to find pictures of this event and as many facts as they can find. Also they must research on the computer
the ways in which an oil spill can be cleaned up.
Oil Spill Effects on Wildlife
Objectives and Materials
Given different objects and an immiscible solution , the student will clean
up as much oil as possible while leaving the same amount of water in the
bowl and write a short paragraph on which works best by observation, to be
graded according to the rubric.
Computer Lab 75 cotton balls (15 per pair)
12 spoons (2 per pair) 6 large bowls (1 per pair)
12 cups of water 6 strainers (1 per pair)
1 bottle of vegetable oil for class 2 roles of paper towels
6 tablespoon measurements Newspaper
Hershey's Cocoa-1 teaspoon 6 small bowls
1. Students will work in pairs of two.
2. Measure out 12 cups of water and pour into a
3. Take 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and pour
into the smaller bowl on your table.
4. Measure out 1 teaspoon of Hershey's Cocoa and
place into the small bowl with vegetable oil.
5. Mix both well until it is a dark brown color;
make sure there are no clumps of cocoa left.
6. Pour the dark brown mixture into the large
bowl with water in it. DO NOT MIX!
OBSERVE WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THE OIL AND WATER. STUDENTS WILL ASK
DID THE OIL SPREAD OR STAY IN THE MIDDLE?
DOES THE OIL STAY ON TOP OF THE WATER OR DID IT SINK TO THE BOTTOM?
7. Take the two spoons and try to get out as much oil as possible.
(Remember that the objective is to get rid of as much oil but leave as much water.)
8. Place the oil into the small bowl when separating.
9. Take the cotton balls and try to obtain as much oil out of the
water as possible. (Place oil into the small
bowl when separating.)
QUESTION #3: "Explain"
OUT OF THE TWO OBJECTS WE'VE USED TO TRY AND SEPARATE THE OIL FROM THE
WATER, WHICH ONE GRABBED THE OIL BETTER? EXPLAIN WHY?
10.The third object you will be using is a paper towel. (The object is to obtain as much oil as
possible so be careful not to put the whole paper towel into the solution.)
11. The last object to be used will be the strainer provided for you on your table.
Carefully dip the strainer into the solution, as not to mix it up. As you're carefully
dipping the strainer in, carefully bring it out. Also, before re-dipping the strainer wipe all the oil
out so you don't replace it back in the solution.
QUESTION #4: "EXPLAIN"
OUT OF THE FOUR OBJECTS WE'VE USED TO SEPARATE THE OIL FROM THE WATER, WHICH
WERE PRODUCTIVE IN CATCHING THE OIL? EXPLAIN WHY?
IS THERE ANY OTHER WAYS YOU WOULD TRY TO SEPARATE THE OIL FROM THE WATER?
EXPLAIN WHAT YOU WOULD USE AND HOW?
Let's review and answer some questions:
1. When an oil spill occurs in the ocean like the Exxon Valdez, what are some of the effects to
life in the ocean?
2. What would be worse, an oil spill in the middle of the ocean or one that occurred close to
3. Are there any other ways you would try to separate the oil from the water? Explain what
you would use and how?
4. Why is it that the oil stays on top of the water? (Hint: densities are important)
5. Now that you know what an immiscible solution is, give 2 examples of one and explain why
they you chose them.
6. Go to your local library and research the Exxon Valdez oil spill. What methods were
used in the cleaning up of the oil? In your opinion, what would have happened to the oil in the
ocean if it was never cleaned up by the thousands of workers?
The purpose of evaluation within the classroom is to diagnose whether or not the student has
attained knowledge and understanding of the concepts.
Word Splash - A word splash activity is a set of key terms or concepts related to a given concept,
typically displayed in an interesting visual presentation. We will use this strategy as an evaluation
device to help students synthesize the information learned from the lesson.
Activity: A copy of the word splash will be passed out to each student. As they read, have
students write a sentence for each word, connecting it to the central topic.
List of words to be used:
off shore drilling
environment Word Splash
impact on humans/wildlife
Concept to Classroom
Learn - Word Splash
Constructivism and the 5E Model Science Lesson
Science Lesson Plans