Prior to this lesson, I stop down at the gym to gather some balls to use during the lesson. I get a whiffle ball, basketball, a bowling ball and a softball. I place the balls on the floor and I gather the students around the balls.
I say to the students, I have gathered some different balls together. I want you to take a look at these balls and tell me, which ball do you think would be the easiest to get to change direction when rolling? I ask some clarifying questions. Why do you think that ball would be the easiest? What ball do you think would be the most difficult to change direction? Why do you think it would be difficult? How do you think the marble that we worked with yesterday (click here for lesson link) to change direction compares to these balls? Would it be easier to get the marble to change direction compared to these balls or more difficult? Why?
I want you to take a good look at the bowling ball. Today, you are going to be working with your work group to try to get the bowling ball to change direction. Go ahead and move to your work areas and I will give you your directions.
A paper box for each group of students
One "practice" bowling ball. These balls look like a bowling ball, but are made of a heavy rubber. Most schools have them. If not, you can substitute a basketball.
Two pieces of tape on the floor, ten feet apart.
I say to the students, You are going to design a structure that will get the bowling ball to change direction. You can use the paper box and anything in the classroom to create your structure. I want you to think about what you will need to get the bowling ball to change direction.
I give the students time to talk about what they might want to use. Each group is also given a chance to hold the bowling ball so they get an idea about how much weight they will need for their structure. I listen to their conversations to see if they are on the right track and if they are applying their knowledge of forces when making decisions about materials and record my observations. If they are not on track, I ask questions to guide their discussion, referring back to our previous lesson where they tried to get a marble to change direction.
After the students were given discussion time, I allow the students to begin picking out materials and create their structures. As they are working, I observe their conversations to better understand their knowledge level and to see their contributions to the construction. See Video.
After the students are done with their construction, we come back together as a group. The students take turns placing their structure on the tape and I roll the bowling ball toward the structure (I roll the ball so it is done at a consistent speed). We observe what happens with each structure and whether it is able to cause the bowling ball to change direction. See Video. I record the results of each group.
If time allows, it would be a good reinforcement of the design process to allows the students to make revisions to their structure if they were unable to get the ball to turn. This will also assist with assessment. The students must show an understanding of the weakness of their structure and what is needed for it to successfully cause the ball to turn direction.
To assess the students, I ask each group a simple question. Why (or why not) was your structure successful in getting the ball to change direction. I record whether the students are able to verbalize the "why". In kindergarten, they should be able to do this with guidance and support.
After we are done testing the structures, we gather together for a wrap up.
I gather the students together and I ask some questions to help guide our discussion.
What did you notice about the structures that made the ball turn?
What about the ones that were not able to make the ball turn?
What is the difference between these structures?
What is more important, the size of the structure or how much the structure weighs?
To make a ball turn, do you think the structure needs to weigh less than ball, more than the ball, or the same as the ball?
If I wanted to make a structure to make a bowling ball change direction, what would I need to do?
The students may lead the conversation in other directions, but I do want them to draw conclusion about the mass of an object and how it relate to getting that item to turn.
After I cover the topic of mass and the direction of the ball, I also ask some questions that help the students better understand that they were engaged in the engineering and design process. It is important that the students realize they actually designed something, even if it was a simple structure. I ask them some questions:
Do you know what it means to design something?
Did we just design something?
What did we design?
Before we created our structure, what did we do? Why was this important?
Now that we have tested our structure, what could we do now?
Do you know