Reflection: Intrinsic Motivation Balloon Rockets Launch New Learning - Section 2: Explore and Elaborate


When you watch the video clips of this lesson, be sure to notice all of the laughter and giggles from students in the background.  Fourth graders just can't help themselves when laughing at the sound the balloon makes when you let go of it and air comes rushing out.  This lesson and activity is definitely fun for students and one that they will be sure to remember. In my classroom, I have a pretty wide tolerance for noise, so if you don't, this lesson would need to be edited to fit your classroom. 

Giving students choice and freedom to create a "balloon rocket" in order to solve a problem of getting a balloon to travel a certain distance is a sure way to build intrinsic motivation and a joy of learning. Students worked diligently to solve the problem, but very few students left school this day dreading science. In fact most students left wanting to replicate this activity at home and are beginning to realize that scientists solve problems, sometimes very interestings ones. 

Presenting problems that require students to work in groups and solve problems is important in my classroom. I believe it is a skill they must master in order to be successful for their futures and the 21st century.  Students are able to take ownership for their learning when presented with such activities and school or science becomes their vehicle for how they can learn about the world, while I simply become a guide. The students are really the drivers of the vessel, I merely help guide and let them know when there will be challenges up ahead.  Because of my experience, I can ask guiding questions to keep them thinking, I can create situations for group presentations so they may learn from peers, but ultimately in my classroom, creating an inquiry situation means letting students make choices about their learning which ultimately leads to ownership of knowledge.

This lesson would have been drastically different had I told students exactly what to do in order to move the balloon. By providing time to experiment in a trusting environment, I'm not only building their science content, but I'm building life long problem solvers. 

  Hands on is a MUST
  Intrinsic Motivation: Hands on is a MUST
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Balloon Rockets Launch New Learning

Unit 1: Speed and Energy
Lesson 2 of 5

Objective: SWBAT observe how speed and energy are related.

Big Idea: In this inquiry based lesson, students work with partners to build rockets with balloons, string, and straws. Students work with altering variables in order to observe how energy and speed are related.

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22 teachers like this lesson
Science, Energy (Physical Science), speed (Motion), speed, Rockets, Balloons
  45 minutes
balloon rocket
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