The Apples New Clothes

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SWBAT gather and analyze data, comparing an apple in various stages of missing skin.

Big Idea

Seeing the pieces that make the whole and the effects they have on a system.

Setting the Stage

5 minutes

This lesson will take place over the course of four to five days, depending on the time schedule of the class and teacher.  It can easily be done in four days, but five makes a strong impact.  In order to obtain the results and truly show change in each apples weight, it is important that it take this many days to demonstrate the loss of juice to the apples system and the impact that this has on the apple.

Materials that are necessary:

three apples, all relatively close in size and weight

balance scale

any form of non-standard measurement tool (I use blocks)


5 minutes

I gather all the children around our group table in the classroom and show then three beautiful apples.  All three are relatively close to the same size and shape. They are also the same varieties.

I ask the children what they notice about the three apples that are sitting on the table in front of them.  Most of the children are very good at making quality observations by now, and I hear things such as, "they are red," and "they all look like they are about the same size."  Because we have also tasted three different varieties of apples, and most children in my community eat apples often (our community is an agricultural community that grows some of the finest and best apples in the world), they all have a solid background in knowing about apple types.  I may even hear, "they look like Gala apples." 

All these observations are what I would hope and expect to hear.  I then ask "What would you predict would be the results if we were to weigh each of these apples?" I anticipate that the children will say, "They should all weigh about the same."  I follow up with this question, "What if we were to change one thing on each of the apples when we weighed them? Would our results be the same?" 

Instantly, I see puzzled looks and faces that are processing the question I have just posed.  I purposely have chosen to ask this because I want to establish that scientists need to plan and conduct investigations collaboratively to produce data to serve as a basis for evidence to answer a question. (SP3) This will really be our first walk into the idea of variables within investigations.  

After this, I ask, "What is the purpose of the skin on an apple?"  I ask the children to think about this for just a moment.  I document some of their thinking on the power point. 

I then ask the children to look at the screen and show them the Power Point that will guide us through our investigation.  The question is posed again on the slide to reiterate what we will be working towards.  This slide will also us to revisit the question each day as we weigh the different apples.  

Day 1

25 minutes

Before we begin to weigh the apples, I remind the children about our past experiences with weighing and standard and non-standard measurement tools. I ask the children which tool they would like to use, and they instantly share that the blocks worked well earlier in the year.  They can all tell me that these are going to be a non-standard measurement tool. 

I put the children in charge of weighing the apples.  They work in groups to weigh each apple and count the totals of each.  They share the data out after each measurement and I document that on the screen on the chart.  

During this phase, the children are busy helping me to prepare the apples for their part in the investigation.  The children are helpful in retrieving materials from our math and science areas to complete the investigation.  Children bring the balance scale and tub of blocks over to our table and I am ready with the apples and a dull butter knife. I also use an apple corer to make uniform slices.  

I ask the children if they have any ideas of different ways we could alter the apple to weigh it. Typical responses are, "cut it in half."  I need to clarify with the children, "Should I do this with all three apples?" They are not sure about I lead into the conversation with more.  

I explain that scientists are sure to have an idea of a possible way to test their question before they begin their investigative work. They can't just jump in and go for it.  So I suggest this possible idea, 
"What if we were to leave one apple completely whole, and take the second apple and cut that one in half as you suggested.  We still need to do something with the third apple.  I have this slicer we could use if you would like."  

I leave it at that for just a moment.  While they are contemplating this idea, I then suggest "and maybe we should cut the skin off too."  Right away I hear, "yeah, that is a great idea."  

We left the apples on the trays over night sitting on a table in the middle of the classroom. This made them visible all day long.  

Day 2

25 minutes

The children could barely contain themselves when they walked into class that morning. They were so excited to see if any changes had occurred overnight.  They didn't see too much and were actually a little disappointed.  

Because our science time is not until the afternoon, the children had to wait several hours before any actual work could take place.  

We went through the same process as the day before with the weighing.  The children took care of all the work again and I documented their results.  

Once the results were on the screen, the children made comments like..."Wow!!! look at that one." They were shocked that even though it did not look as though anything had changed, it was obvious by the data that something had happened.  

Discussion took place at this point with the children sharing their theories about why the whole apple had not any change and the other two had some significant differences.  This was what I had hoped would happen.  Instantly, someone said, "We were right. We said the skin protected the apple. It has to keep something inside it."  

I did not address this issue yet, I wanted to wait another day before we discussed the juice and it's part in the system.  This would relate to the Cross Cutting Concept of Energy and Matter. Demonstrating that objects can break into smaller pieces and change shapes.  This was a pretty good example of that.  

This was a great opportunity for me to share with the children that this is exactly what scientists do. They use measurements to collect data and then make comparisons with that data. (SP3) 

Day 3

25 minutes

Day 3 brought dramatic results.  Again, I could barely hold the children back from entering the room that morning.  They were so excited to see what was going to be the change this time.  The visual effects were beginning to show and ideas were flying about why the apples looked so "gross."  

We discussed the word moldy and what that meant. Many of the children had preconceived ideas about mold being something bad for you.  However, after some simple surface discussions, the children began to understand that there are 'good' molds and 'bad' molds.  And not all of them are meant to be eaten.  

The results from this day were a bit skewed.  The results showed no change again in the whole apple and the apple cut in half through us for a loop.  It actually gained a block!!!! Imagine the conversation that ensued from this piece of data.  The most dramatic change, of course, was the apple cut and peeled.  

Day 4

25 minutes

Our day 4 was actually missed because of an unforeseen building wide assembly.  We didn't have time to weigh our apples that day.  In reality, our day 5 was really day 4 for us.  

The children again weighed the the apples and we recorded the results on day 5.  We chose to leave day 4 blank.  Until I looked at the chart and instantly thought, this would be another chance for an "in the moment" teaching opportunity.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

The plan was to have the children work on writing conclusion statements from the data we gathered. Unfortunately, this did not happen.  We ended up discussing the results for such a long time, that we did not have enough time to complete the writing.  

This disappointed me, because the writing is probably the most crucial step to finishing the concept of learning. However, I was really happy with the conversations that we did have with the concepts of understanding that the skin really had an important purpose in the apple.  

I was thrilled that the kids could make the leap of understanding the system and never hesitated in being to explain that the skin was an essential element in that apple system.