Balls and Ramps: Conducting A Whole Group Investigation

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SWBAT answer a given question by collecting data through an investigation using ramps and balls.

Big Idea

In the unit's final lesson (before the 2 day assessment) you will work with your class in conducting an investigation, collecting data, and then using data to answer a given question.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Materials:  A copy of Balls and Ramps Investigation for each student, three blocks of the same size (to create a ramp), a ping pong ball, two yard sticks

Advanced Preparation:  Read through the steps in lab report and create the ramps prior to the start of class.

Today's lesson will be conducted as a whole group investigation.  This will allow us to revisit the steps in the scientific process, record data onto a table, and give students the opportunity to develop a new testable question from their investigation and apply the concepts to real world situations.  

NOTE:  Our district in transitioning to the NGSS.  Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been effected by the shifts in grade levels.  I continue to teach this unit because it focuses on the National Science Standard (k-4) B.  "As students describe and manipulate objects by pushing or pulling, throwing, dropping, and rolling, they also begin to focus on the the position and movement of objects."  

It is important that students understand that "the position and motion of an object can be changed by pushing or pulling.  The size of the change is related to the strength of the push or pull."  Establishing this knowledge base will prepare them for 3rd grade when the NGSS requires them to apply concepts of force and motion into their learning (3-PS2).

The Investigation

50 minutes

I have all of the students gather on the carpet and face the easel.  

"Today we are going to conduct another investigation as a class.  Before we start, let's review the steps in the scientific process by looking at the anchor chart that we have made.  Who can tell me the 1st step (I repeat for each of the steps).  We will be using these steps as we investigate today's experiment."

I want to review the steps and continue to emphasize the use of the anchor chart as a tool to guide them with their inquiries.  

"Today we need to answer this question:

  How does the height of the ramp affect how far the ball rolls?

I am going to hand each of you an experiment packet and ask that you put your name on it.  We will now work as a class to fill out the investigation."

  I then go through each part with the students, starting with the hypothesis.  I allow students to help each other with spelling and partner share before writing.  This is not an assessment and I want the kids to learn from each other and to help each other with misunderstandings. Since this is an assessment, I scribe for those kids who need it.  I want their ideas and want to capture their thinking.  I also do this to save time and keep the class moving along together.  

I will work with the group to accurately record the data on the table.  After we finish parts 1-3, I  ask them to complete parts 4,5, & 6 on their own.  I will still read those parts to the students (for those who need it).  

This lesson is presented this way because I I am truly focusing on guiding and discussing with the students the process for which an experiment/investigation must follow.  The focus of this lesson is the process learned and not the content of the unit concepts.   

Evaluating Their Work

1 minutes

I use the lab lesson rubric to evaluate each student's ability to complete the remaining three parts of the investigation.

I am looking to see if students can independently come up with a new testable question, apply the concept of force to other real life situations, and if they can identify the difference between motion and force.