Thursday, 2 October 2014

Science investigations and lesson plans - Finland

Provided by Kenan Fellows Program.

In this lesson, students will build a tower that is as tall as possible, freestanding, and can withstand a slight breeze.
For this activity, the planning and debriefing is at least as important as the product. Towers will be evaluated not only by their height, but by how well they stand up to a moderate breeze (demonstrate what that means during the introduction), how well construction went, and how the team worked together. Emphasize that scientists have to do all of these things when they engage in scientific investigation.
Learning outcomes
Students will:
  • Learn that an object or structure is stable when the forces acting upon it are balanced by the composition of the object or structure itself
  • Discover that unbalanced forces can cause the deformation or collapse of an object or structure
  • Understand that some materials are better than others for constructing a particular object or structure
  • Consider the purpose of the object or structure when choosing materials for construction
  • Design a solution to a technological problem
  • Use models to understand how forces can act on an object or structure
  • Make informed choices about building materials
Teacher planning
Time required
45–60 minutes
Materials needed
  • large sheets of newsprint
  • paper or plastic cups, any size
  • paper plates, any size
  • large index cards
  • small index cards
  • plastic coffee stirrers
  • markers
  • masking tape
  • scissors
At each of 7 work stations place the following materials:
  • 1 sheet newsprint paper
  • 3 paper cups
  • 3 paper plates
  • 4 5″ × 7″ index cards
  • 4 3″ × 5″ index cards
  • 4 plastic coffee stirrers
  • 1 marker
  • 1 pair of scissors
At the supply table place the rest of the materials. One student from each group can come to get a forearm’s length of tape. They come back to get more tape as necessary within reason.
  1. Introduce the task. Tell students they must plan and build a tower that is as tall as possible, is freestanding (it cannot be supported by a table or chair in anyway) and can withstand a moderate breeze.
  2. Introduce the materials. Tell students that the materials can be used in pretty much any way they can think of.
  3. Students have to spend 5 minutes as a group planning how to use the materials to build a tower. They may use paper and pencil to plan if they desire.
  4. Students build the towers. If an idea is clearly not working, students should be encouraged to ditch the whole thing and plan a new design. Encourage students to either plan and build a second tower if finished with the first one or improve the first one.
  5. When teams are finished, they should gather back on the floor. They should decide for themselves how well they think they worked together.
  6. Measure each tower and blow on it to establish the success or failure of the building.
Use discussion and observation to establish student understanding. Have students sketch their towers and use arrows to indicate forces acting upon it.


Growing and measuring sunflowers

You need: sunflower seeds, two flower pots, soil, water, a kitchen towel roll, two sticks to support the saplings, a pencil

Estimated time required: 2-4 weeks

The experiment:
  1. Pour approximately 0,5 cm of water in a glass and put in 5-10 sunflower seeds. Let them swell over night. (This is not necessary.)

  1. Put soil in two flower pots and plant 2-5 seeds about 1 cm deep in both pots. The soil should be moist, not soaked. You can cover the pots with clingfilm as the humidity is then higher in the pots. Place the pots in the sun and water them when necessary.

  1. When the saplings have grown some 1 cm, place a stick next to the biggest sapling in both pots. Set a kitchen tower roll on just one of the sticks  so that the stick is like in a tunnel. If the pots have several saplings growing, weed all but the biggest one and leave the strongest to grow.

  1. Use a pencil to mark the length of the sapling on the stick. Do this every day. The kitchen towel roll can be lifted up while measuring.

  1. Which sapling grows faster? The one in the tunnel or the one without the kitchen paper roll? How much do they grow in a day, in a week, in two weeks?


Science Investigation: Grades 3-4.

Which paper plane flies the furthest?

You need: a white A4 paper for every pupil

1.     Make a plane using the given instructions
2.    Test whose plane fly the furthest
3.    Measure how far the planes fly

How can you make the plane fly even further?

4.    Use different kinds of paper 
5.    Make changes to the planes
6.    Make different kinds of planes
7.    Test the planes again
8.    Examine the qualities a good plane has