They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in Science it also helps me get the conversation and discussions going. For this lesson, I included an animated picture in my forces PowerPoint of what happens to Tiger Wood's golf ball when force is applied to it by his club. My students had a very lively discussion about "how hard or how softly" he had to hit the ball to get it to go where he wants it to go. This lead to one student making the connection that the hitting of the ball is actually a push, and there you have it, real world example of a push and we were ready to begin our investigation!
Before an investigation, I want to ensure that students have read the Force Investigation Procedure to the end, how I accomplished this in the lesson was to make it part of the power point and a whole class activity. Thoroughly reading all of the directions/procedures, is something my third graders struggle with, by making it a whole group activity I am focusing not just on a Science skill but a life skill. Eventually, I gradually release this activity, first to the collaborative group and then individually. I also used the power point to help guide my students and the lesson. It gives me a way to introduce content vocabulary, which they place in their notebooks using a modified Frayer Model, and to have the guiding questions of the lesson up for the students to refer to as they conduct their investigation. I also take this opportunity to go over the rubric for this investigation, it gives my students a clear picture of what is expected and how to do their best.
I created a focus page, Force Investigation because it enabled my students to systematically collect the data, and reflect just as scientists do when conducting trials.The investigation has three trials that the students must complete, first with the ping pong ball and then with the bouncy ball. I purposely chose these two types of balls because they were easily accessible, and secondly, one is much lighter than the other. It provided them an opportunity to clearly experience the amount of force needed to move a heavier and lighter spherical object. I then had them graph their findings as a visual display that they used to compare the amounts or frequency of occurrence. They determined their frequency axis based on their measurements from the data table. The use of the graph also helped them compare the data quickly. Here is a Force Investigation sample of of of the graphs.
I used the PowerPoint to deliberately leave the guiding questions up as the students are conducting their investigation. When we met for our class discussion and wrap up we revisited those questions and we answered them as a group using the turn and talk, or think-pair-share strategy. This strategy gave my students an opportunity to voice their ideas using evidence with a partner and then with the whole group. I also used a graphic I created , 3 Things I Know About Force, as a wrap up activity where my students shared at least three of the concepts they learned.
I don't usually collect notebooks, however, for this particular investigation, I did create a Forces Investigation Rubric and graded their work. I did this because I felt that before we moved on to other types of forces I wanted to have some demonstration of learning that I could use to guide the creation of my next lesson.