A Science Project in First Grade

My son needed to do a project with a science topic. The suggested types were:
  • Share a book
  • Make a poster
  • Construct a diorama
  • Paint or draw a picture
  • Create a graph
  • Make a puppet
  • Write a story
  • Give an oral report
  • Make a collage
  • Make a mobile
He chose to share a book and make a poster that summarized its contents. Being fond of animals, he picked one of his favorite books from National Geographic Kids:

Knowing that he should not simply cut photos and text from the book, he went to Google to search for images that he could then use for his poster. While going through each page of the book, he then browsed through images he found on the web and picked the ones that were similar to the pictures he saw in his book.

After printing out the web images he had selected, he cut them out so that he would be able to fit them inside his poster.

He had two posters ready and hopefully, he would have enough space for all the photos and ideas he wanted to present.

The book started with features that defined a cheetah so he also began his poster along the same line. Cheetahs were fast. They had spots. They also had tear marks - he had to look into the web by typing "Why cheetahs have tear marks" to find out more since the book he read did not elaborate on that particular feature. He found that the tear marks helped cheetahs look into bright sunlight.

One part of the project was to make comparisons so he followed the example made by the book in which the cheetah was placed side by side against a leopard.

He had to write some text to supplement what the pictures were trying to convey. I helped him in the layout so that he would be able to fit all in two posters.

A cheetah has a smaller head than a leopard does. A cheetah has a leaner body and I had to make sure he knew what "leaner" meant. He said "thinner". A cheetah's tail is thinner and longer than that of a leopard.

Of course, my son knew that "fast" really defines a cheetah so he wanted to show a race. We found pictures of a cheetah, a lion, and a greyhound running. He asked me what the correct order was - I did not know offhand which one was faster, the lion or the greyhound, so we had to look that up. Cheetahs could reach a top speed of 60-70 mph while lions could do 50 mph and greyhounds could run at 40 mph. The cheetah won the race, the lion was second place, and the greyhound was last. My son wanted to highlight the fact that a cheetah was a great hunter so we had pictures showing how a cheetah uses camouflage (spots) and its speed to capture a prey. He also wanted to show that a cheetah lives in open grasslands called savannas. His interests in performance and efficiency manifested in his choice to highlight the fact that the body features of a cheetah are all built for speed:

At the end, he wanted to add a "social" part. He had a picture showing a group of cheetah brothers called a "coalition". We had to go through pictures of Egyptian relics that depicted a cheetah. He wanted to show that a mother cheetah takes care of the cub. And of course, he wanted to end with the current predicament of cheetahs in the wild.

So after four straight hours of hard work, the poster was finished.

And he simply had to celebrate.

The following is a documentary on the need to save the cheetah: