Materials: science notebooks, masking tape. timer, playground slide.
The lesson will start with a formal discussion of unit vocabulary words and the group will create a definition for the words motion, force, energy, push, and pull. I then tell them that we are going to go to the playground and use a slide to conduct a test. The students will then time how long it takes each person to slide down the slide three times. Each time, there will be a different force that is applied to the person sliding.
NOTE: Our district in transitioning to the NGSS. Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been affected by the shifts in grade levels. I continue to teach this unit because it focuses on the National Science Standard (K-4) B. "As students describe and manipulate objects by pushing or pulling, throwing, dropping, and rolling, they also begin to focus on the the position and movement of objects."
It is also important that students learn that pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions, and can change the speed or direction of its motion to start or stop it. It is important that students understand that "the position and motion of an object can be changed by pushing or pulling. The size of the change is related to the strength of the push or pull." Establishing this knowledge base will prepare them for 3rd grade when the NGSS requires them to apply concepts of force and motion into their learning (3-PS2).
"I want to start today be defining some of the science words that we have been talking about and using in our observations. I have made this chart that has each word on it, let's use our knowledge (from our investigations and observations) to come up with a meaning for each one."
The words are: motion, force, push, and pull.
I want to use kid friendly language but also want to make sure the definition is clear and accurate. I know the true meaning of each word beforehand and use that to guide the development of the class' definition. I use a vocabulary chart for reference (by the students) as they are writing in their science notebooks. It is expected that students use precise scientific vocabulary and I find vocabulary reference charts promote the use of the words.
"We've been invited to the World Sliding Championships. I want our class to finish first. In order to finish first, we need to figure out the fastest way to get down the slide. We will try a variety of ways and see which way is the quickest.
Before we go, I am going to ask each of you to put a strip of masking tape across the front of your pants (from pocket to pocket). I will explain why, once we get outside."
The tape will serve as a starting line. I will place a tape strip on the edge of the slide (the top) and they students will have to line up the tape strip to the one on their pants.
"Before we head out, let's fill out our science notebooks for today's entry. Who can tell me what goes in the upper corner? Where can you look?"
I ask this question to the class because I want them to refer to the anchor chart that was created in an earlier lesson. By referring to the chart, I am reinforcing the use of the chart as a tool and not just a visual display for the classroom.
"Todays focus is going to be "sliding with force", please write this in your books."
"I am going to give you a table to glue into your notebooks. You will need to fill this out during our activity today. Once you have glued it in, grab a clipboard and a pencil and line up at the door."
I take time to review and/or introduce what a table is.
I take the class outside, to the playground, and gather them around the slide. I put a piece of tape on the edge of the slide (the top of it) and model what will happen..
"Everyone of you will take turns sliding down the slide. You will take three turns. After each turn you will record your time.
The first time, you will sit down at the top of the slide, so that your tape mark on your pants matches up with the tape mark on the slide. You will use your bottom to scoot forward until you start to slide. As you slide, a classmate will time your slide from the time you start to move until your feet hit the ground.
The second time, you will use your hands and give yourself a push down the slide.
On the third attempt, a classmate will give you a push down the slide. Again, each slide will be timed.
We want to see which slide is the quickest way to get down the slide. This way we can be the Sliding World Champions. After each attempt, you will need to record your time in the correct spot on the table (in your journal). "
"Before we start, I would like each of you to write which slide you think will be the quickest. Please write, "I predict ______ will be the fastest slide. Again your choices are no push, self push, or partner push. The words are also on your table in your notebook (for reference)."
I have all of the kids attempt the first slide, then the second, and finally the third. I want it to stay organized and for students to hear the times of each slide. This way they are hearing how quick the slides with the greatest force are compared to the others. I have a table, on a piece of chart paper, with each students name and three columns for their times. This way an order is established and students times can be posted for them to refer too when they record them in their notebooks. I am rounding the times to the nearest second.
The kids then each take their turns. I have students take turns timing the slides (using an i-pad timer). I ask the kids to wait until the timer says go each time.
I take the class back to the classroom and we gather for science circle.
"Please bring your science notebooks to the carpet and gather for science circle. I want you to start by looking at your prediction. Was prediction is correct? I would like you to write yes or no and then explain why."
I am asking them to explain why to see if they will use their data to back up their statement. Some students get this right away and some might need help or understand it better when they hear how others used the data. For some of my early writers, I circulate around the circle and help them with spelling (if need be). I don't want the writing part to be the focus but rather the explanation of why their prediction was right or wrong. I may need to scribe for some of the students to speed this up. Again, I want to capture their thinking not evaluate their writing ability.
"Who can tell me what they found out from their test. Which type of slide would be best for us to use in the World Championships of Sliding?"
I encourage students to use their data when explaining what they found out. I want them to back up what they are saying with facts and not opinion. For some students, I have to help students use their data and understand their data to make an argument. In this case, I have to help (some) students make a connection between the time and the amount of force used. I do this as I check in 1:1 with each student. However, if the class as a whole was struggling with this, I would call them together and look at one student's times, as a whole.
It is important for students to back up their "arguments' with data because students, as scientists, must analyze data to derive meaning. The students are identifying patterns within the data and interpreting the results.
As the conversation continues, I bring up the fact that a big push created a faster time and slide, while a smaller push resulted in a slower time and slide.
"Ok, so we have concluded that getting a push from a friend will result in a faster slide. We now have to send in our roster for the WSC (World Sliding Championships). We can designate one classmate as the "Official Pusher" for our team slides. I would like you to fill out the World Sliding Championship Registration Form and tell me who should be our "pusher' and explain what type of push they should give you. Remember, we want to have the fastest times."
For the sake of time, I will fasten these into their science notebooks after school. I want to give them a full sheet to write and these sheets can be folded and stapled in afterwards.
I look through each students entry to check for a few things. I use the student Sliding Into Science Check In Sheet, to evaluate each entry. I look to see that the students set up their notebook the correct way, wrote a prediction, and collected data. I also look at the World Sliding Championship Completed Form to see that they identified that a harder push would result in a faster time and that they would want a "stronger" person to give them a push.