Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gift Bag Simple Machines

I mentioned in my TWAS that in science class we are learning about all the different kinds of simple machines.  I figured I would let them explore and learn about each machine on their own first before we went more in depth for all of them.  This week we are starting to talk about levers but last week students explored different types of simple machines by looking at random objects I put in gift bags.

What I did:
- I gathered together a bunch of random objects... math compass, ruler and eraser, nut cracker, can opener, stapler, car jack, tweezers, and a bunch of objects that we didn't have an official name for because we didn't know what they were (that I picked up at thrift stores) and I stuck them each in a bag that you couldn't see through.

-  Then I put them all by the window and let them sit there for a few days until we were ready for them.  Every day students would ask me what all the presents were for, who gave them to me, and if they could open them.  Anticipation was building (I actually didn't mean to do this so early but it just happened that we lost a science class somewhere and so it happened)

-  Finally, one day I scattered the bags around the room and explained this sheet that students would fill out with a partner.

-  I like to partner my students up with a grade 6 student and a grade 5 student because the grade 6's would have already done this unit (but they forget) so they went around the room opening each bag, trying to figure out what the purpose of the object could be (or making it up when they had no idea) and examing it for simple machines.
I gave them this worksheet to fill in while they went around the room.

-  They had an hour this class to look at the objects (well, slightly less because of the time it took to explain). Some got through them all (because they rushed) and some didn't get to them all.  So the next science class we took time opening each bag together and talking about what was in each bag and what simple machine was in it.  I originally planned to do it as sort of a debate but they just agreed on the simple machines for the most part.... no one wanted to play devils advocate because they were all just so smart about simple machines by this point.

-  For every time they said something was a lever I had them point out the fulcrum on it and by the end they were all experts on the fulcrum as well.

I should mention that prior to this class we filled out an illustrated dictionary on all the simple machines so they had a basic understanding on what each machine did AND they also played an Edheads game that took them through all the simple machines (and compound machines).

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