Part Two - Base Line Data on the Soda Cup Lander

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SWABT use a scale to find the mass and a ruler to take the linear measurements of their 'soda cup lander'.

Big Idea

Tools of the trade: students learn how to use a scale and ruler, so they can take accurate data for their Sea Cup Lander in the next lesson.

NGSS Connections and Lesson Preparation

30 minutes

Connection to NGSS

Science and Engineering Practices

- SP 5 Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

In order for my students to take mathematical data on their Sea Cup Lander, they will need to know how to use a scale and ruler. In this lesson students learn how to use a scale, and review how to take linear measurements to the nearest cm.

Next week students apply these skills when they take data on the 'scientific instruments' they will be evaluating for their Soda Cup Lander (SCL).


12 Soda Cup Landers - for linear and mass measurements

6 gram weight scales

6 rulers

6 washers

Class Preparation

metric ruler demonstration to show how to take accurate cm measurements

Demonstration area to show how to use a scale

Sentence strips with 'how to steps' for linear and mass measurements. Number the steps on the back and cover with a post-it.

2 pocket charts to use with the 'how to steps'

Set up for Each Linear Stations (6 stations; 2 students/station)

1 Sea Cup Lander

1 ruler

Set up for Each Mass Measurement Station (6 stations; 2 students/station)

1 Sea Cup Lander

1 scale

1 washer

gram weights


Students work in pairs. Before the lesson I have selected the 'scale' and 'linear' expert for each group.

Each student will need their lab book, pages 5 and 6,  to record their SCL measurements.

Question for the Day

5 minutes

Question for the Day: What information can we get about our sea cup lander, (SCL) from a scale and a ruler? Along with the question is a picture of a scale and a ruler, to support students who may not know what either of these tools are.

Science begins with a 'question of the day' for a couple of reasons. It is an established routine for science that helps to bring the class together efficiently. I use a question to hook the students participation with an aspect of today's lesson.

I direct students to take out their white board and marker and write their answer to the question on their white board. Students hold up their white board to show me their answer.

This gives me a quick assessment as to what students may know about taking measurements with these tools.

While students are writing their answers on their whiteboard, I project the 'expert groups' on the smartboard.

After I view student answers, students to sit on the rug with their partner and share answers to the 'question for the day' with their partner.

Partner sharing provides a way for students to check in with their assigned partner before starting the next part of the lesson.

Linear and Scale Measurement Experts

15 minutes

"Today each of you will become an expert on how to use the scale or ruler and then teach your partner how to use the tool. Afterwards you will practice what you learned by taking different measurements of the Sea Cup Lander."

Rather than students learn 2 measuring methods from me, how to use a ruler and scale. I decided to split the class into 2 groups, one group would learn how to use the scale and the other group would learn how to use the centimeter side of the ruler.

"Each 'expert group' will go to a designated area of the room and watch a short demonstration on how to use the measurement tool. Afterwards you will work with your expert team to order the 'how to steps'."

Each step is printed on a sentence strip and is in random order in a pocket chart. Once the expert groups have arranged the steps, each team will have steps to refer to when taking measurements.

"When everyone agrees with the order, your team may check your sort. On the back of the sentence strip, underneath the post -it is the order number for that step. Only check it when your expert group has agreed with the order."

I chose to have the students arrange the steps in a pocket chart rather than individuals write the steps to save time. Some of my kiddos need a lot of support with transferring information to their paper and some just need lots of time to write. Ordering the sentence strips removes the writing anxiety from some of my students.

The activity promotes collaboration, because the students are working toward a common goal. It also gives them independence with their learning because they decide when their work is ready to be checked and they get to check their work themselves.

The sequenced sentence strips are displayed for students to reference when sharing their information with their partner.

I explain that the expert stations will run for 10 mins. 5 mins. for the 'expert workshop' and 5 mins to organize the 'how to steps'.

While students are ordering the steps, I set up the measuring stations. I have the materials for each station in  tubs so that I can easily move the materials to the desks.

Sharing Scale and Linear Expertise

25 minutes

By now the sequenced 'how to steps' are displayed in the room and students are on the rug sitting with their team partner.

"Congratulations! Each team member has successfully completed their technical training and have earned the title 'Expert'!

Experts, you will teach your team member how to how to take accurate measurements with the scale or ruler, using the 'how to steps' as a guide. Teams will work together to take Sea Cup Lander measurements.

I cannot get to each student while they are taking measurements to check that their measurements are accurate, but my experts can assist by being next to their partner and checking that they are setting the scale or ruler correctly.

6 teams will start with the scales and the other 6 teams will start with the rulers. After 10 mins. I will ask teams to organize their center, and then move to the other measurement station."

"At each station there is a measurement tool, the Soda Cup Lander and parts you will measure. In your lab book, pages .... each of you will write your measurements."

I project the lab pages and point out each part that will be measured.

I set a visible timer so that students can pace their work. I circulate around the room to check that students are taking accurate measurements and to clarify any directions.

When the timer rings, students organize their station and move to the other station.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

After students have organized the materials at the 2nd measurement station, I ask them to bring their measurement data to the rug.

"Should our measurements be the same? why or why not? Turn to someone other than your team partner and discuss."

"Now turn to a different shoulder partner and share your data."

This is my back up strategy for students to check that they made accurate measurements, and to reflect on why they may or may not have gotten the same measurement as the other team.

I give students a couple of minutes to share and then I ask the class, show me with thumbs up if you got the same measurements.  If you did not get the same, why do you think this happened? Teams how could you check your measurements?"

Students noticed that the scale measurements seemed to be more varied than than length measurements. I used this opportunity to discuss how our scales are not built as accurate as a ruler.

After this discussion, I direct students to place their lab book in their science folder.