We started by putting our names on our Science Notebooks (a simple spiral bound pad of blank paper) and writing a list of questions. Each child has different questions (how does wind form? how do fireflies turn their lights off and on?) and I also let them know that they should continue to think about questions throughout the week and we can add them into their notebooks as time goes on.
I am choosing the first topic (Physics) and then I will follow their interests from there.
First, to illustrate the process of scientific inquiry -- which includes 1) not believing blindly everything you're told, 2) testing things and taking notes, 3) replicating the experiment to see if the same thing happens again, and 4) coming up with a new question -- we did the Blue Jay Feather Activity.
Blue Jay Feather Activity.
In this activity, you crush a blue jay feather using a mortar and pestle. We started by drawing the feather whole using colored pencils. Then, we crushed one thoroughly using a marble mortar & pestle. After you grind it up, you will discover that no part of a blue jay feather is actually blue. It is blue because of refraction, not because of blue pigment. I had read that this was true but I wanted to try it for myself (scientific inquiry step #1). We used a magnifying glass to look at the crushed specks of feather closely, then drew and wrote about what we saw (scientific inquiry sep #2). Then we ground up another one (scientific inquiry step #3). Then one of the children asked whether this would work for cardinal feathers (scientific inquiry step #4) and I replied that I do not know and would love to find out.
Supplies: blue jay feather(s), mortar & pestle, white paper, colored pencils, magnifying glass (optional)
And now we are on the hunt for cardinal feathers!
This idea comes from The Adventure Book of Nature Craft by Richard Dempewolff. I've always wanted to try it and so we did. Modeling a spirit of inquiry is really important in science, so we do a blend of activities which I have done before and ones which are new to me. That way I am just as curious and excited as the children!
Then we moved on to the topic of the day: Newton's First Law. This law talks about inertia. An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by an unbalanced outside force.
Egg Drop Inertia Activity
This is not the can-you-design-a-contraption-which-will-keep-an-egg-from-breaking-when-it-is-dropped-from-a-certain-height activity. This is something different.
Directions: "The Egg Drop" by Steve Spangler
Supplies: towels, newspaper, a drinking glass 3/4 filled with water, aluminum pie pan, toilet paper tube, raw eggs, food coloring (optional)
We did this over an over, starting with the one egg version and then designing a successful setup for the two egg version. We didn't work our way up to the four egg version, but it can be done!
I also had the marble maze out and available for kids to play with in between activities, if they wished. I also had us get up and go outside for a few minutes at the half-way point, as people needed to move around.
After an explanation of Newton's First Law, and some real-life examples (seat belts keeping you safe in a car, shaking a nearly-empty bottle of ketchup vigorously to get the ketchup to come down), we did the next activity.
Crazy Coat Hanger Tennis Ball Hat Activity
Directions: Newton's First Law (bottom of page)
Supplies, per child: an old metal coat hanger, two tennis balls
Additional Supplies: duct tape
This was one I hadn't done before and it was awesome. The illustration makes it look like the coat hanger points upward like reindeer antlers but really you lay the long straight part on your head and tape the tennis balls to the two ends which hang down. It is pretty easy to balance it. I won't give away what happens when you twirl quickly...
Finally, we did the glueing to get our hovercrafts ready for their maiden voyages next week. Next week we will spend more time on forces, starting with gravity and then learning about forces other than gravity.
Build a Hovercraft Activity
Directions: How to Make a Hovercraft
Additional Supplies: Super Glue
I can't wait until next week, to see if this one works! It is an awesome idea and goes along with teaching about friction.
After each activity we carefully put a drawing of the setup and some notes about what happened in our Science Notebooks. Suddenly, it was time to go home. We can't wait for next week!
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