The 6th graders are natural scientists and engineers and have spent the last few months thinking like scientists by asking good questions, collecting data, and making initial plans for the science fair projects.
During the month of October students worked with their peers to gather information through labs, reading, and observations to answer the question, “How do our bodies produce and use energy needed to move objects?” (Students don’t have the answer yet, but are in the stage of learning about motion.)
To brainstorm initial thoughts, students went outside and observed each other kicking a soccer ball. They used iPads to record each other and then analyzed the videos and recorded observations. Then students brainstormed questions associated to kicking a ball.
To learn about the energy of motion, students collected data by rolling a ball down a ramp from various heights to see how many pennies were knocked over. Students learned about the importance of multiple trials, isolating variables, and eventually combined their group data into class data. Students will be revisiting this question to learn more about energy production and anatomy in November. Below is a picture of their data.
Initial science fair work also began in October, and students honed in on their project topics. The class is split fairly evenly between engineering projects, and scientific investigations. The energy in the classroom is positive as students are planning the design of their project and how to properly collect data.
To help students understand experimental design and data collection, students learned the terms “independent variable” and “dependent variable”. They completed a fun engineering design lab by building an origami helicopter and then changing the independent variable (propellor length) to see how it affected the dependent variable (fight time.) Check out the video below.