Today we began the second full week of our energy unit as well as the last normal week of the month of December. What do I mean by this? This is a full week of instruction and a normal schedule. Next week is the week leading up to the big winter break and even more so than the two days prior to Thanksgiving, a lot more students may be absent.
That is why the brochure is due on the 17th and not the 18th.
Despite next week being abnormal, I am still going to review the science content at the beginning of each lesson.
In science we did a make-and-take activity involving mechanical (motion: potential and kinetic) energy and its transfer. Essentially we reviewed through a demonstration how potential energy is stored energy and based on its position. Kinetic is that same energy in motion. We also demonstrated how potential energy becomes kinetic and then transfers to another object with mass. We did this by making an object I call a Bounce Thingy for lack of a more creative name. I suppose this is one reason why I am in teaching rather than marketing.
Here is what we did: each student selected a bouncy ball with an approximate diameter of an inch that was prespiked by a scratch awl. There was no way that I was going to have 60+ fourth graders poke a hole in a ball and not expect some kind of problem!
Anyway, each student got a ball, a piece of a straw, and an extra long toothpick. The toothpick was inserted into the hole in the ball and then the piece of straw was inserted over the toothpick, resting on the ball. From a randomly chosen height, the students held the Thingy in mid-air to demonstrate potential energy. Then, they dropped it. Once they let go, gravity took over and it became kinetic energy. When the ball impacts with the floor, the energy transfers to the straw causing it to launch into the air. The graphic above is a simple animated .gif that I created to give a visual.
After experimenting, they wrote a brief (one paragraph) reflection piece on what they did as well as explaining the physics of it (kinetic, potential, transfer, etc.). They were welcome to use their notes as a reference.
I have instructions on my Try This at Home page if you or your child would like to do this. Be sure an adult uses the scratch awl!.
Below is a slideshow of what the students did.
Afterwards, students were given class time to work on the brochure.