May 23

Electricity

Third grade electrical engineers used electricity kits to learn the difference between simple, parallel, and series circuits, as well as how to open and close circuits with a variety of switches. A circuit is a complete path around which electricity can flow. Click here and here to learn more about electricity and circuits.


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May 23

Hexagons

First grade expert reports are one of my favorite school events. I took a photo of this report about hexagons because of the clear connection between math and science. Great job!

May 21

Bubbles!!

To mark the end of Lower School science, fourth grade celebrated with a bubble lab! They made cube bubbles, bounced bubbles, and made bubbles inside bubbles. Observations led them to wonder and ask questions. So much science in bubbles!

May 19

Round and Round

After reviewing that objects move because of a force (a push or a pull), PreK scientists continued their study of motion with a lab about things that move in a circular path.

We observed Euler’s Disc. The chrome plated steel disk is 1/2 inch thick and three inches wide. The disk spins on a concave mirror base. The action of the disk is called spoiling which means rolling and spinning. Just give it a twist and gravity does the rest. Will it ever stop? Click here to watch it in action. Fascinating!

So much fun to watch the movement of a flow ring. Click here to learn more.


After reading the story, Squiggle, we used ribbon dancers to mimic the character in the story. We moved them fast and slow, above and below our heads, and into a variety of shapes.

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May 18

Color Mixing

This is always a favorite investigation! The primary colors of pigment (red, yellow, and blue) mix to form the secondary colors (orange, purple, and green), but how do you create the intermediate or tertiary colors? First graders were tasked with using varying amounts of the primary colors to create 24 different colors. Click here for additional information. I used color fizzers which do not stain. How fun to have a job creating crayon or paint colors! After we mixed the colors, we named them. Click here for the color names of Crayola crayons. I witnessed an abundance of collaboration as they asked their classmates how they created the colors in their trays.

May 15

Energy Sticks and Circuits

Third grade physicists experimented with energy sticks to investigate simple circuits. The energy stick’s sensing circuit is so sensitive that it can detect even a very small amount of electricity that travels across your skin! I explained that a circuit is the flow of electrons in a closed circular path. We discovered which materials conduct electricity and how to open and close a circuit. These scientists concluded that metal objects, water, and playdoh were conductors. Salt is the conductor in playdoh. When each child placed a finger tip in a puddle of water on lab tables, the circuit was completed. This lesson provided the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of keeping electrical appliances away from water. Click here and here to learn more about one of my very favorite science tools!

I also demonstrated this energy stick conductor.

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May 14

Parachutes

My fourth grade students were asked to design a parachute that would bring a load of their choice slowly and gently to the ground.

Engineers took this project through the Design Process:  Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, and Improve. They made the following design choices:

  • Canopy – size, material, and shape
  • Suspension lines – number of lines, material
  • Type of Load

They also had to choose a way to attach (such as tie, staple, or tape) the suspension lines to the canopy and load.

We compared the parachutes, explained and supported design choices, and discussed how problems were resolved.

As we dropped the parachutes from the second floor landing in the rotunda, classmates timed how long it took each parachute to fall approximately 18 feet.

Most loads hit the ground between two and three seconds, but the engineers in the photos below constructed parachutes that landed with times between five and eight seconds. When we returned to the classroom, we discussed why these parachute designs were more successful. Were there any similarities between them? Did the weight of the load matter?

Click here to view a video that we watched about drag.

Essential understandings from this activity include the following:
There are many ways to solve the same problem.
We can always improve upon our initial idea.
Sharing ideas with others helps all of us learn.
Engineering is a process.

We also looked at various ways parachutes are used from parasailing and hang gliding to slowing the speed of cars and space shuttles. Watch this additional use of parachutes:  Click here.

Watch below to learn how NASA developed a parachute for rovers on Mars.

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May 13

Mealworms

Second grade entomologists are studying invertebrates. We reviewed the body parts of an insect (head, thorax, and abdomen), and the stages of complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). At the lab tables, we observed mealworms which are not worms at all, but the larval stage of darkling beetles. Beetles are insects and insects are arthropods. Mealworms like all kinds of foods, and some of their favorites have the word “meal” in them. Click here to watch the metamorphosis of a mealworm.

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