September 22

Kindergarten Engineers

After I retold The Three Little Pigs, I suggested that the pigs still had a problem. They need to find a way to watch for the wolf in case he returns.

Engineers design and build things to solve problems. I explained that I thought a watchtower might be a solution to their problem, and then showed them various examples of watchtowers and how they are or were used to see long distances by forest rangers, sailors, kings, and lifeguards.

Then I tasked my kindergarten engineers with building a watchtower for the pigs using Styrofoam, toothpicks, and a 3×5 card for the platform. We used the Engineer Design Process and I witnessed many examples of problem solving and the growth mindset. (The students did not watch these videos.) Each engineer was given a ruler that they used in a meaningful way to measure their towers.

My first plan wasn’t successful, so I need to try again! Fail forward.

My first plan was successful, but I think I can make it taller:

The tallest tower of the day! Notice that her toothpicks are not showing.

Other engineers at work:

I briefly explained at the beginning of lab that Styrofoam is a man-made material that is not good for our world, so I always look for ways to reuse it.

September 22

Light Lab

And let there be light…

Fourth grade physicists had a fast-paced lab about the properties of light in the IT conference room rather than the science lab, so that we could perform our investigations in complete darkness.

We viewed an amazing light show through our refractive glasses. We used our glasses to look at Christmas tree lights and fluorescent lights too. The colors of the visible spectrum are always in the same order.

We saw the visible spectrum displayed as in the photo below when we looked at the light ball with our glasses. Click here to read more.



But when we looked at the light produced from a laser, we saw something completely different because it wasn’t white light. The rest of the visible spectrum was missing. Since light moves so fast, we couldn’t see the beam move across the room, but when an acrylic block was placed in its path, the beam was visible because the block caused the beam of light to slow down.

I covered flashlights with cellophane in the primary colors of light – red, blue, and green. What will happen when we overlap the colors? Cyan, magenta, and yellow are seen when two colors mix and white when all three come together.

When I moved this light stick, we could see the three colors of light inside the tube. When the light ball was swung, the colors appeared and seemed to mix before our eyes.

The 3D standing wave machine is a perfect visual of a wave. Click here to learn more.

Finally, we “wrote” on glow in the dark paper with UV flashlights. Click here for more information.

How do you measure light? Does a larger flashlight produce a brighter beam? We looked at the beams produced by several flashlights and learned that light is measured with lumens, and the size of the flashlight is unimportant. We also reflected light by bouncing a beam around the room with flashlights and mirrors. We watched our partner’s pupils when I turned the lights on and off, and observed how our pupils change, like the lenses on a camera.

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