Understanding Materials, Shapes and Changes

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SWBAT design an experiment to explain the importance of material and shape to the function of an object

Big Idea

This lesson will provide an assessment of student understanding of the importance of how shape and materials make a difference to the function of an object.

I Can Statement and Introduction

10 minutes

I ask students to look at the I Can Statement on the board. We read together, "I can design a toy and choose the shape and material that would be best for a flying machine, test and revise my design and explain why I picked what I did."

I ask, "what do you think of the I can statement? What do you think it is asking you to do?" I let students talk about what they think will be happening in today's lesson. I remind them that they will act as scientists in this lesson. What does a scientist begin with?" (a question). "Yes, you will all need to think of a question and write it in your journal. I want you to think of a question that you might want to ask about designing a flying toy of the best shape and materials. Is there anyone who has a question you might share?" I let students share questions and I write them on the board. I encourage students to talk about their questions, or about the questions of others. "We have several good questions on the board as well as many ideas and suggestions about how we might adapt these questions. Now I would like you to write your question in your journal."

I give students time to write their questions. I circulate around to help students write a question that they can investigate. 

Planning Our Investigations

20 minutes

I ask students to look at their journals. "What do you need to do in your journal now before we can begin our investigation?" (Write a hypothesis and a procedure). "Yes, we need to make our hypothesis, our answer to our own question, and a procedure you will use to test your hypothesis. I want you to look at your question about whether you can choose good materials and a good shape to design a flying toy and then test and revise your design.  I want you to write your answer and then your procedure. I will give you about 10 minutes to write these." I take questions and comments and then circulate around the room helping students match their procedure to their question and hypothesis.

This lesson is an assessment so I do not want to tell students how to do this investigation. I want to let them try to write a question, hypothesis and procedure and then test their ideas as they think about the materials and shape of their toy. I hope they can explain how the material and the shape makes a difference to their flying toy.

Building and Revising Our Shapes and Materials

45 minutes

For me the building takes place on the second day. This gives me a chance to look at the student questions and procedures and get an idea of what kinds of materials they will need. I put out the materials on the table, making sure that students who requested special materials have what they needed. 

If you do this whole lesson in one period, you will want to have a wide range of recycle and craft materials available to students. You can even put the materials out first so students know what they have to choose from. 

I show students their choices of materials. I remind them that they need to follow their own procedures and designs to build their flying toys. I also remind them that if they decide that something doesn't work, they can revise their designs but they need to keep track of what they do and what they try. They can do this in the results section of their journal using pictures and words.

Students work independently building their flying toys and revising as they test their designs. They work to perfect the materials and shapes that will help their toy fly the best. Creating The Toy From Her Design

I do stop the students periodically to show what one student or another has done in terms of shape or materials or revisions or journal entries. It is always helpful to let students see how other students are solving problems and recording things in their journals. Students can learn from one another and by stopping and calling attention to things, I am encouraging this learning from peers.

Sharing Our Creations

15 minutes

Students have completed their flying machines. I set up a display area where we can watch each flying toy. I make sure that students are seated safely back from the display/test area. One at a time students demonstrate their toys for us A Flying Toy and tell us what shape they used and why. 

It is important for students to be able to talk about their choice of shape here. I take notes on what students are saying because I am using this as an assessment of how shape plays a role in how something works. 

Each student shows his/her invention, tries to fly it, tells us about why they used the shape they did. Other students are encouraged to comment on each other's designs.


15 minutes

In order to make sure that students provide information on their thinking about why shape and choice of materials make a difference in the functioning of an object, I provide several questions for students to respond to in their conclusions. 

This is the final lesson in the unit and I want to make sure students have understood the Next Generation Science Standards for materials and properties. I know that if students can not voice how the shape helped the object to fly and that the material was light enough for flight, that I will need to design further explorations in this area. If students can elaborate then these introductory lessons have provided a base for future learning.

I say, "look at the last page of your journal. There are several questions that I want you to answer about your flying toy, the materials you used and the shape you have chosen. I want you to answer these questions as best you can. Remember that a scientist always makes conclusions about what he/she has learned and that is your task right now." I ask for questions and then give students about 10 minutes to respond to the questions in their journals. I circulate around to assist children who may need help with the task, or with spelling. 

I collect the journals to assess student understanding.Each Of The Steps Together