I am choosing our first topic (which is Physics, the first topic we are doing in our homeschool year) and using this time to get to know the students in my group. As I learn about their Science Questions, I will be able to follow their interests for the rest of the year. I am really excited about this! (If you are interested in emergent curriculum models, such as Reggio Emilia, I have a ton of Reggio books in my Lending Library.)
This week in Science Club we learned about Forces and focused on four. Two were Contact forces (Friction and Spring) and two were Action-at-a-Distance forces (Gravity and Magnetism). We started, however, with grinding up a red cardinal feather to see if it did the same thing the blue jay feather did. It did! They both reduce to a dull brown powder. The color comes from refraction.
- "fly" our balloon/CD/bottle cap Hovercrafts
try to strike matches on glass, then successfully strike them on a box
(this was all me... I did not let the kids strike the matches)
wave our hands around in the air, then rub them back and forth on the floor
rub our hands together and feel them get hot
do the chopstick/vase friction experiment, first with Rice, then with Dry Beans, then with Flour*
- take apart a spring clothespin to see how it works
- ask children what they think gravity is, explain that we are all exerting a very slight gravitational pull on one another but that we don't have enough mass to have a really strong pull, the Earth has enough mass that it has a very big pull and it is hard for us to get away from it
go outside and do the Gravity Water Drop demonstration, let each child try it for themselves twice**
- hold two magnets which are attracted to each other, see how close you can get them without letting them touch, feel the pull
demonstration of lodestone/magnetite compared to another rock which looks similar, sprinkle them with straight pins then lift them both up into the air and turn them both over
sprinkle iron filings on a piece of Plexiglas, place two magnets under the Plexi, the filings will rearrange themselves to show the magnetic field around the magnets
challenge the children to get a large paper clip from the bottom of a water-filled glass bowl without letting their fingers get wet (use a magnet to pull it up the side and out of the bowl, of course)
* This was a real experiment. I already knew that this very cool trick using Friction works with rice. I did not know if it worked if you filled the vase with other dry kitchen ingredients. NOT KNOWING is what makes it really an experiment. Of course, we kept the vase and chopstick the same, because you only change one variable at a time with an experiment. The dry beans worked, and you didn't even need to tamp the jar down. It was easy. But the flour did not work, and that group of kids tried and tried. Here were some of their ideas as to why flour doesn't work for this experiment:
- too moist
too thin, it can't grab
we packed it in too hard
it acts in a different way
the chopstick digs a hole, rice tries to fill it in but flour just stays
** This was a demonstration, not a true experiment. The last time I did the Gravity Water Drop, I showed the entire thing to the children and then asked them how they thought it worked. This led to all kinds of confusion as they tossed around a wide variety of theories, which mostly had to do with centrifugal force and got us waaay off track. This time I uncovered the hole and we all watched the water stream out, then I recovered the hole and refilled the cup, and told them that I knew a trick where I could uncover the hole but the water would stay in the cup and I asked if they had any idea how I could do that. After a lot of brainstorming, I lifted my arm up high and uncovered the hole and dropped the cup simultaneously. Then I told them that the gravity is pulling on both the water and the cup and so they go down together and the water stays in its spot. Then each child got to try it twice with their own cups. I don't recommend Styrofoam cups for this because they tend to split when they hit the ground, so large paper cups of water would be better.
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