Thursday, June 10, 2010

Simple Machines

Have I mentioned how much I love science?! The ironic thing is I was always scared of science when I was in school. It was never anything thing that came natural for me... experiments, equations, and really big words, OH MY! When I took this job I was most nervous about teaching science, especially to a bunch of kids who LOVED the subject. Ask any of my students who had me my first year teaching on Monhegan and they will probably make great fun of my science teaching skills. Basically all of our experiments went wrong and they ended up teaching me most of the time.

BUT the good news is I have gotten much better... at least I think so. This year we learned SO much in science... starting with an amazing unit of geology (including the geology of Monhegan... very cool), then we had our rocking ecology unit filled with tons of interesting information on biomes, ecosystems, abiotic & biotic factors, and food webs! We currently just finished up our study of electromagnets (SO AWESOME) and now we are ending the year with a brief study of simple machines.

To kick off the unit we did an activity of measuring the amount of work it took to lift certain objects around the room. Did you know that one joule is the amount of work done by a force of one newton moving an object through a distance of one meter!? Well, we do. 
It took 50+ newtons to lift this desk.

The fourth graders worked together to lift some of the objects they found.

How many joules does it take to lift a dictionary?!

Gabe is a goofy science student (but wicked smart!)

So the first simple experiment we experimented with was the lever... we tested the position of the fulcrum verses the amount of weight the lever was able to lift.

Looking very scientific!

Placement is everything.

We had a few "issues" with pumping the table. 

Next we did some work testing different types of friction.

We measured the work of pulling a brick over sandpaper, wax paper, and bare wood.

Which one do you think caused the most friction?!

THEN we got to build a little mini tractor to learn about the wheel and axle!

I love these faces.

Doesn't look like a tractor yet... but just wait till they add that simple little machine!

The kids used a rubber band and wrapped it around the axle of the tractor so when they let the tractor go the rubber band came undone and caused the tractor to go flying!

We tested the tractor with and without traction on the tires.

Let me just say that with traction these little tractors could fly!

The moral of this story. Never underestimate the power and fun of science!

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