Monday, May 16, 2016

Forms of Energy

As we discussed different forms of energy, (we focused on Mechanical, Sound, Electrical, Light/Solar, and Heat/Thermal) we decided to make a foldable to hold all of our information. Inside we put the definition of the form of energy, and on the outside we added a picture example as well. Here is an example of our foldable - one picture is the outside view and the other picture is inside the flaps.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fighting a Dragon with a Cannonball!

About to release marble from 4 cm
Yesterday we fought dragons with cannonballs! The children built ramps using a ruler and a Styrofoam cup. They placed a paper dragon in front of the ruler, and started their "cannonball" at differing spots on the ruler to see the results. They placed the cannonball at 4cm,8cm, 12cm, 16cm, 20cm, 24cm, and 28cm. The distance the dragon was pushed was documented, averaged, then graphed.

After the marble was released from 4cm

About to release marble from 12cm

Table of our results
Graph of our results

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Lately we've been working with three types of force: gravity, friction, and magnetism. We started an investigation in which we made three pendulums of different lengths. We timed how long each pendulum took to make 10 swings, then looked at our pattern. For our pendulum with a string 10cm long, it took 5 seconds to swing 10 times. For our pendulum with a string of 20cm long, it took 6 seconds. Our pendulum with a string of 30cm long took 7 seconds to swing 10 times. We then predicted how long it would take a pendulum with strings of 40cm and 50cm to swing 10 times.

We discussed the forces involved in our experiment. We talked about the gravitational pull, which was responsible for making our pendulum fall. We also discussed the friction of the air rubbing against the string, which was responsible for slowing down the pendulum to an eventual stop. There is also friction found in the string rubbing against the pencil. This, too, helps slow our pendulum's swing.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Insulators vs. Conductors

Our journal sheet for this activity
Using a door hinge as a conductor
Today we explored insulators and conductors. The kids were given a baggy of 7 items - a binder clip, a dime, a penny, a Popsicle stick, an eraser, a pen, and a brad. They were also given the circuit supplies of a battery, wire, and a wire with a light bulb attached.

They were to test the items to determine if they were insulators or conductors. They did this by adding them to their circuits and observing whether or not they light came on. When they finished, they were to go around the room and find other things to test. Here are some pictures of the items they tested.
Using a metal letter as a conductor

Using a metal desk leg as a conductor

Figuring out the eraser is an insulator

Measuring Angles

This week we have worked on measuring angles. Measurement is still a very abstract idea for 4th graders, so we began by discussing measurement as a whole. What do we use different measurement tools to measure? I posed the question, "Would a ruler work when trying to measure angles?" In the beginning of our discussion, many kids believed it would. After trying it out, they came to the conclusion that we needed something that measures in degrees. They understood the unit wasn't correct, but weren't sure what degrees actually are, though we had discussed degrees when classifying angles as right, acute, obtuse, and straight.

We went back to everything we already know about angles. Going in a complete circle means we have gone 360 degrees, while only going halfway around means we have gone 180 degrees. We already know that a right angle is 90 degrees. We already know a straight angle is 180 degrees. We know an acute angle measures between 1 degree and 89 degrees. We know an obtuse angle measures between 91 and 179 degrees. Once we illustrated that, we decided we could half each 90 degree piece and figure out where 45 degrees and 135 degrees are located. After we discussed all this, I challenged the kids to come up with their own tool (we hadn't learned about protractors yet) to measure the degrees of an angle. Some actually did really well and got pretty close!

We measured some angles with our student-made tools. The next day we worked with a real protractor, and compared them to ours. The kids were pleasantly surprised at how close their tools were to the real thing!

Student-made tool

Student-made tool

Student-Made Tool

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Electrical Circuits

In science we've begun to explore electrical circuits, and what they must have in order to be complete. The kids were handed a battery, wire, and another wire with a light bulb attached, then they were told to make the bulb turn on. That's the most direction they were given.

All groups were eventually successful in turning on the light. It's always fun to hear their conversations as they make their cases for why their way will be successful. Most groups figured out they didn't even need the extra wire!
 After they finished, we discussed what parts an electrical circuit needs to be complete. It must have a power source, conductor, something that needs the power, then finally the circuit must be closed. We also discussed the idea that while circuits don't have to have an insulator on the wires, it's probably a great idea. ;) 

Circuit Journal Entry

Right Angles

As we begin to explore right angles, we first discuss the degrees involved. From our prior knowledge regarding quadrilaterals, we know they are made up of 360 degrees. We further the discussion by looking at a quadrilateral that is made up of four right angles. If there are four, and they're all equal, they must measure 90 degrees.

After this discussion, we decide how we might find right angles within a shape. This leads us to using the edge of an index card. I find this helps those kiddos who struggle a bit more with spatial concepts.

After lots of playing around with shapes and labeling their angles, we move on to combining polygons to make right angles. This is a bit more challenging. This always leads to great discussion about what size angles might we pick when trying to make a right angles. The kids can see they need to be looking for angles smaller than 90 degrees, otherwise their angles are going to be too large. As the kids found angle combinations that worked, they recorded them in their journals.