After reviewing the Engineer Design Process, I challenged my second grade engineers to construct a Lego maze for a jingle bell. They were tasked to build a maze with at least three turns, two dead ends, and some obstacles. Once again, their creativity, problem solving, and collaboration amazed me! Many of them created stories as they worked on their mazes.
Metamorphic rocks are shaped under the surface of the earth from intense heat and pressure. The rocks that result often have ribbon-like layers and may have shiny crystals. We used bread to make metamorphic rocks. The three types of bread represented our minerals. We used the heat from our hands to begin the process and then we stood on the bread balls (rocks) to apply extreme pressure.
We began by combining the minerals (represented by different types of bread) into a sedimentary rock.
The rock began morphing with heat from our hands.
We applied extreme pressure.
We have our metamorphic rocks! Notice how the “minerals” combined in different ways.
My PreK scientists are studying turkeys, so this lab focused on feathers. After holding and observing several real feathers, we used symmetry to cut out a feather using the fold as our rachis. Then we cut the barbs on each side of the feather. So pleased with the way my youngest scientists folded and cut their feathers independently! At the end of lab, we played a game to learn more about turkeys.
First grade chemists will study matter throughout the year. In this lab, two groups of lab partners at a time poured two liquids (1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of vinegar) into a quart size Ziploc bag. Then I folded a tablespoon of solid baking soda inside a small piece of Kleenex, dropped the Kleenex into the bag of liquids, and quickly sealed the bag. Immediately, we watched the bag inflate as a chemical reaction occurred and the bags filled up with carbon dioxide gas. There was so much force on the bags, some of them exploded! Fun!!
Then we tried the experiment a different way. I poured 3 T of vinegar into a bottle and 3 T of baking soda inside a balloon. I turned the balloon upside down and the baking soda fell into the bottle. What blew up the balloon? Click here to watch a video to learn more.
Second graders applied the knowledge gained from previous engineering labs to create structures with marshmallow vertices and spaghetti sides. The only constraint I gave them was to include at least one 3D shape in their freestanding structures. Just look at the creativity!
Click here for a kid friendly website that explains different types of engineering jobs. Click here to watch an informative video about engineering.
My PreK scientists learned that although Styrofoam is used to protect items in packages and to maintain the temperature of liquids, such as hot chocolate, Styrofoam is not good for the environment because it doesn’t decompose. My youngest engineers discovered a fun way to reuse Styrofoam packing chips, so they don’t go in a landfill. These young engineers were asked to build a structure as tall as a ruler that could stand on its own.
Constructing boats during our sink and float unit is always a favorite lab! This year, I began lab by reading The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I asked if there were other ways the goats could cross the river to stay away from the troll? After one of the kindergarten students suggested a boat, I explained that they were going to be engineers and build a boat for the goats.
I introduced the Engineering Design Process- Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve. We looked at the design of several plastic boats and discussed what would be important to remember when they built their boats. My scientists had the following materials from which to choose: aluminum foil, masking tape, Popsicle sticks, a rubber band, toothpicks, a cup, and straws. As they finished, we tested their boats and some engineers had time to improve their designs. I am always amazed at the variety of designs and the learning that occurs.
Click here to watch some fun videos about sink and float concepts from Sesame Street. I encouraged my little engineers to build boats at home and to test them in their bathtubs. Be sure to send me photos.
At the end of lab, we checked to see if there were any changes in the pumpkin that we had cut in half last week. At first, my scientists thought the pumpkin had grown fur! We moved it outside, so we can watch how it continues to decompose.