Dragons and Tacos Science Lesson

Crazy-Taco Obsessed Dragons

Can we grownups take an imaginative playful book about crazy-taco obsessed dragons inspire kids to think about science?

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri is a fun book that presents a problem. 

Kids Love to Solve Problems

One of the best memories I have from my elementary school years was learning about the scientific method. My third grade teacher told us to think like scientists. Then she presented a problem about iguanas that were disappearing from an island.  We came up with ideas and really felt the joy of a good problem that needs an answer. I can't be the only kid who liked solving problems. For me, if problems were presented in a story, without using the dreaded phrase "story problem" that was the best form of learning.  

This got me thinking about a way to use Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri  as a book to discuss the fire breathing dragon problem. I figure, why not take a fictional problem and have fun with it.  Here is a general outline of a lesson.

Direct: 

Let’s look at the cover and back of this book.

Ask: 

What do you think this book will be about?

Explain: 

In this book dragons do love to eat tacos. The love of tacos leads to them eating so many tacos that they start breathing fire and burn down the house. 

Today we are going to predict why eating tacos leads to fire breathing. 

Direct: 

Have students look at the page in the book that shows the dragon’s mouths shooting fire.

Ask: 

What caused the dragon to breathe fire. 

Direct:

Let's come up with a list of questions and record the questions on a chart or a board.

Ask: 

What are some ways we can research these questions?  (Hopefully someone will suggest that they read the book to find out more.)

Read the book. 

Ask: 

Now that we have read the book, let’s consider some hypotheses about the dragons.

Direct: 

Have learners to a sample hypothesis written by a scientist who wanted to test whether eating pasta helped runners.

Explain:

Let’s look the statement change some words for what we think the situation is with the dragons.

The amount of pasta a runner eats will cause them to run faster.

Ask: 

Which words do we need to change?  (Answer- “Jalapenos” instead of “pasta”, “dragon” instead of “runner” and “breathe fire” instead of “run faster.”)  

The amount of jalapenos a dragon eats will cause them to breathe fire.

Explain: 

Since we don’t have dragons here to test the hypothesis we will instead come up with a plan to run an experiment. When setting up experiments it is important to have two groups.  In our case we would have one group of dragons eat jalapenos and one group of dragons that do not eat jalapenos at all.

Suggest:  (If no one else does)

Let’s have a group of dragons that eat no jalapenos and another group that start with a small amount then add more. 

Ask: 

Do you think this experiment could be dangerous?  (Kids will probably say that yes, the dragons could burn down the school room.)

Suggest: 

Perhaps we can do something do to make sure something dangerous doesn’t happen, yet still allows us to test our hypothesis.

Explain: 

If we were to run the experiment we will need to collect data on a chart.

Summarize: 

Even though we can't run the experiment, let’s review how we have applied the scientific method.

1.  Ask Questions -point to the board where the students came up with questions

2.  Do Background Research- Ask…how did we research the problem. (Read the book)

3. Make a Hypothesis- Point to the sentence that is now the hypothesis

4. Test your Hypothesis with an experiment or two- Ask if they were able to test the hypothesis.

5. Analyze the Data- Point to the chart for data collection.

6. Share the Results- Now, I invite you to use your imagination discuss with another person how the experiment could turn out.  You can draw a picture and take notes if you like.

Wrap Up

Ask kids to share their ideas or final thoughts. 

Cup of Leadership

is a blog that promotes the leadership process and an environment of conversation and books.  
Deanne Bryce is a writer for young children and an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of  a project called Book Drops for Kids. The project promotes using picture books to inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) thinking. 
At least once a month a picture book is purchased from an independent book store and “dropped” in a little free library to for someone to use.