Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our Turn to Learn

This week our explorations with balance and motion have taken quite an interesting turn. We have moved on from balancing static objects to observing how motion and balance affect a spinning top. We noticed some common characteristics in our investigations:

  • stable objects
  • unstable objects
  • balancing points
  • axis
  • axle
  • gravity
To this list we have also added the forces of torque and friction. It's interesting to us how all these forces are working together and against each other to set an object in motion or to slow it down. It's a giant game of battling tops! Today, we also used tops with marker tips at the balance point. While we watched the tops spin, we could see evidence of and the differences between fast-moving and slow-moving tops and tops that completely stopped.

In addition to our experiments with motion, we have been busy writing a letter to Ms. Lankas' class about our discoveries. We figured it was a good idea to start prepping first graders for the big thinking they would do in second grade. In our letter we are making sure to use capital letters, correct punctuation and spelling, but we are also working hard on writing a message that makes sense. After each sentence we ask the writers' questions, "What should we write next? How will our next sentence connect to our last sentence?" By asking these questions, we make sure that we are developing and organizing our ideas so it's easy for the first graders to understand. We are also starting to use some important, nonfiction text features like using bold print for really important words.

Rest assured, we will pack up all this learning and take it with us on our Friday-field-trip to the Science Museum. So here's to spinning. Here's to tops. And here's to Seconds!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Balance and Motion

Wow, things are really rolling along in Room 223...We just began a science unit on how objects move and balance. We are observing and experimenting with forces like pushing and pulling, gravity, balancing points, and counterweights.

We began our investigations by using some simple tools: a cardboard ramp, a plastic axle, and two different sized wheels. During our experiments we noted what happened when big and little wheels were pulled along by gravity. Ok, some groups added pushing forces as well. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

The last couple days we have been exploring balance and balancing points. Who among us would have predicted we could balance a crayfish on its nose? Sound fishy? You're right. We used a tagboard cutout of a crayfish instead of the genuine article. While the crayfish was fairly stable, we discovered it became more stable when we added counterweights. You probably know the counterweights better as clothespins.

Each day we explore a little, question a little, talk a little, and read and write a little about balance and motion. In these processes, literacy helps us complete our work as scientists, engineers, problem solvers. As always, the learning never seems to stop. So, here's to balance. Here's to motion. And here's to Seconds!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

No Bones About It

Question for you all: Why are there old dinosaur bones in the Science Museum? Because they can't afford new ones!

If there's a dinosaur joke, there must be dinosaurs and there was. Today, all second graders at Woodland attended a presentation by the Science Museum of Minnesota to begin preparing us for our upcoming field trip to the Museum. The presentation and field trip are generously funded by Flint Hills Resources. Hooray and thank you!!

During the presentation, we were scientists. As paleontologists, we observed, discussed, and learned about life as it was long ago. Matthew, our guide from the Science Museum, explained how dinosaurs became buried under layers of rock and soil, what paleontologists do, and how paleontologists work to piece together the bones they find. Luckily, we had a room filled with scientists who worked together to assemble a model of Deinonychus' skeleton.

We also learned that Deinonychus was a meat eater whose name means "terrible claw." One look at Deinonychus and we quickly saw it was accurately named. Yikes! Time for a manicure??

Now, why did Deinonychus eat raw meat? Because it couldn't cook, of course. Mathew shared a ton of great information on dinosaurs. Don't be surprised if dinnertime turns into dino-time!  So here's to dinosaurs, here's to the Science Museum, here's to Flint Hills, and Here's to Seconds!