Observations and Scale Models

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SWBAT design a scale model.

Big Idea

Help students create scientific models to accuraetly represent the complex solutions they create.

Lesson Overview

Next Generations Science Standard Connection

In this lesson we learn how to make a scale model of our classroom then the students create a scale model of our playground. This is a lesson to help the students engage in observations of a playground, and to teach them how to accurately create models. The next lesson allows students to design their own playground using a scale model. In the explore section of the lesson the class helps me make a scale model of our class using graph paper. Then we go outside and each child uses graph paper to create a scale model of our school playground. This lesson really is preparing the students to illustrate their solution in a way that shows their consideration to spacing on a playground.

Lesson Overview

Today's lesson could easily be broken up in to two days. The engage, explore, and explain sections could take place in one day, because it is really an opportunity for guided practice in creating scale models. On day two the students could create their scale model, and evaluate each others work. 

Transitions and heterogeneous ability groups really seem to help my students persevere through complex tasks. Students need to move around frequently, and they enjoy working with their friends. 

We begin the lesson in the lounge where I really activate my students knowledge. Then the students explore as they help me create a scale model in of our classroom. Then they explain what they learned, and we begin an application activity in the elaborate section of the lesson. The explore, and explain sections take place while the students are seated in the center of the room in groups of four. The elaborate section takes place at the playground. Last, we transition to the lounge for the evaluation and closing of our lesson.

The other strategy I use is heterogeneous ability groups, but I call them peanut butter jelly partners. The students work together to read, write, and support each other anyway necessary. This just creates a classroom atmosphere where we help each other.



10 minutes

This section is where I try to activate my students's prior knowledge and get them thinking. I also assess what they already know, and I share the plan for the lesson. 

First, I try to teach the students to connect to prior learning and get them to share what we have been learning. So, I say, "Tell your partner what we have been studying? (A problem in our community.) What was our problem? (Children need a place to play outside.) Here is a video of our conversation.

I begin by exciting the class by projecting an image of Barbie and a toy truck on the Smart Board. I ask the students to think about what real things theses images represent. I ask for volunteers to answer and I call on those who raise their hands I say, "What is Barbie supposed to be a model of?( A woman) Is she similar in size to an adult female? (yes) Is the truck similar to a real truck? (yes) Are the parts proportional? (yes) Does it look like the real thing? (yes)" I know these are not really higher order questions, but I am just activating the students thinking. I want them to see that models are similar is proportion to the real thing. This is an essential component to understanding that a illustration must also be proportional to the real solution.  Here is a video of our conversation.

Then I share the plan for the lesson, so my students know what to expect. This helps them persevere through complex tasks. I say, "Today we are going to create an illustration of our classroom, but the illustration must be proportional to the real design. We are going to make a model of our class on graph paper, and you will create an accurate model of the school's playground."


20 minutes

In this section I model how to create a scale model of our classroom. I give each child a copy of the graph paper, so they can follow along.

I project a similar image of graph paper on the Smart Board. Then I say, "A scale is the amount of space that stands for a real amount of space. So, today one square is going to represent one foot in our class." I then hold up a ruler and remind the class by saying, "A ruler is one foot long." 

Then I begin saying lets see how long each set of desks in our room is and I measure the desks. Then I fill in the amount of spaces on the graph paper on the Smart Board and the students copy it down. I say, "First, let's draw the wall." Then I draw a line on the top of my model and ask the class to do the same. Next I say, "So, lets measure the distance from the wall to the first set of desks." I measure. Then I say, "Let's measure the desks too." Then I add, "So, if the desks are four feet wide and four feet long we need to draw them four boxes tall and four boxes wide. They must also be the correct number of boxes from the wall."

Next, I say, "Now we need to add the walls on the other sides of the room. So, let's measure." Then I draw it on my model and the students copy it down.

Next, I say, "What else should we include?" (center tables, sink, bathroom, door, lounge)  Then we begin measuring other things in our room and drawing them on the graph paper.


10 minutes

Now, the students explain their understanding. This is a nice time for me to reinforce any missing links or just explain things further to students. Actually they are explaining their understanding which helps those confused. But, I am here to help. I find the students appreciate and enjoy learning from each other more than learning from me. This is a nice place to stop and make sure everyone understands before they have to create a scale model from an observation.

I begin by saying, "Share at your table the steps to create a scale model." (start at a wall, measure, illustrate) Then I listen. Here is an example of some student work. I ask volunteers to share and I create an anchor chart as the students share, so they can reflect upon what they say in later lessons. I say, "You will use this when you create a scale model of the play ground you design."


15 minutes

Now, I give each child a clip board, ruler, copy of graph paper, and a pencil. We go outside to make observations of our school playground. These observations are going to help students know how far apart to place the equipment in their own scale model of the playground they design.

I model how to create the scale model by asking each child to stand in a specific corner and I show them how to use their ruler and measure from the corner to the monkey bars. Then I watch them and help as needed. After everyone measure out the distance to monkey bars we had to measure the size of the monkey bars. So, I model how to measure then I allow the students to measure and record their observations. We do this as we walk around the huge play station. We go to the two rock walls, the slides, and back to another set of monkey bars. Then I say, "These distances are going to help you when you actually illustrate your scale model of the playground you are designing. There must be specific distances between equipment to keep the children safe when playing."

Last, I show the students how to measure the swings. Then I watch and help them measure the swings. I offer support illustrating and measuring. 


10 minutes

Now, we move back to the classroom, and the students trade graph papers. They evaluate each others paper to see if the equipment is illustrated in the correct scale. One foot is one box. Each child scores their peer using the rubric. Then I check the student work when the students are gone. I give them feedback on the rubric and a sticky note, so they know I looked at their work. They also get feedback and corrections if they are confused.