Make a Science Portfolio

Combine research, art, and writing to create a great classroom project that can be anything from a quick classroom activity to an organizing system for a major science unit.

The basic idea is to have each student create a labeled picture that shares information, then put them all together into a display in the best way for your particular class:

  • a bulletin board
  • a Pinterest board
  • a portfolio page on your class website
  • an album for the class library
  • a poster board display

I made the example above on my computer, which can be a great way to practice tech skills, but it works just as well if you do it with art supplies in the classroom. You can also use the Trading Cards tool at BigHugeLabs if you want to get a little tech practice but don’t have a graphics program in your classroom. The example below shows a card made with this tool:

Begin by choosing a topic, either as an assignment or together in a class brainstorming session. Then instruct each student to create a card. You could show kids baseball or video game trading cards if the idea will be completely new to them.

To make a card:

  1. Choose a subject. Here, I’m looking at adaptations. I’ve made a card for a cheetah. If others make cards for other animals, we’ll have a display of various adaptations that will give a good overview of animal adaptations.
  2. Research the subject, looking for specific information related to the overall theme of the portfolio. Take notes on note cards during this part of the process.
  3. Choose several points you want to make about your subject.
  4. Find or create a picture of your subject. I used a photo of a cheetah which I found online (with Creative Commons licensing).
  5. Label the picture with the informative points you want to make.
  6. Proofread.
  7. Use any visual tricks you want to make your project look cool — I put white under my words and used arrow images to point to the elements of the picture that went with the information I had in mind. If you’re using physical cards, this is a great opportunity to practice new art techniques in a small project.

Once students complete their cards, collect them and display them. I like to take some time here to discuss possible ways to organize the cards, since I teach writing — organizing data is key for my class. If you’re focusing on the art aspect, you might choose to lay the cards out to find the most attractive mix. There may also be an obvious best arrangement; for example, if you have students create cards for elements, you’ll probably want to arrange them according to the periodic table of the elements.


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