With a new science topic to teach, comes new STEM lessons to try out. Students are learning about forces and motions in physical science and I’m loving all the opportunities it provides for hands on discoveries.
At this point students have built up their background knowledge on the basics of force and motion. They have learned new vocabulary words, watched short video clips and BrainPop Jr. videos, listened to stories, read information on their own and participated in several discussions with peers based on what they have learned. All this has prepared students to use new knowledge to complete a few STEM lessons.
My favorite STEM lesson they tackled so far was a slide experiment. The objective of the lesson was for students to make observations about how different materials can cause friction and in turn effect how objects move down a slide.
I set up three different slides. One had a smooth layer of tin foil, another a bumpy plastic wrap layer and the last slide was a makeshift “sandpaper” I created out of tinfoil covered with zig zag strips of liquid glue sprinkled with sand.
Students were asked to design a sled with a set of materials that would go down each slide as fast as possible.
This led to discussion, creativity, collaboration, disagreements, and final designs each group could test out.
The best part of the whole experience was watching the groups work together toward a common goal and using science vocabulary like gravity and friction, as they were testing out their designs. It was great validation that students had retained information presented in lessons. What a thing of beauty, students in action applying what they knew to create their design.
After completing the experiment I had students reflect on the process. Not only did I ask them to think about how the activity connected back to our science standards, but I asked them to think about how their group worked together as a team. Sometimes as we all know, working in a group can be the most difficult part of an assignment.
It was a great afternoon putting learning into action. Next up for the STEM lab will be a lesson I created a few years ago that uses a simple machine, a pulley. The lesson starts off by describing how this simple machine makes life easier living in Amsterdam. Not only will it connect beautifully with the forces and motion unit, but it will connect to travel (my favorite!) and a solution to a real life problem. You can read about when I first did this lesson here.