Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scientists At Work

            We began our informational writing unit, Lab Reports and Science Books by Lucy Calkins, Lauren Kolbeck, and Monique Knight, with a science experiment using a car, a ramp, a measuring tool, and two different surfaces. As we recorded our investigation, we used the Scientific Method with a Question/Problem, a Hypothesis, a list of the Materials needed, the Steps (Procedure) used to complete the experiment, the Results, and a Conclusion. We recorded our efforts using multiple tries and concluded that a car travels further on a tile surface than on a carpeted floor. Exploring the internet and using mentor texts, we were able to add some ‘scientific’ terms to our writing with words such as force, gravity, and friction.

          As we continue our scientific writing this week, we went into the LRC to use Lego blocks to build a catapult. Previously, we had planned a procedure for testing our hypothesis – which will travel farther when launched from a catapult, a cotton ball or a ping pong ball? Students were reminded that this is 'important work' and they should 'document every step of the process'. We then experimented with our cotton balls and ping pong balls by launching them and measuring the distance they traveled. Working with their new table group, the students had to decide who was doing what and share the burden of the work. Students took notes on their results and will decide as a group how they will write up their results.

          Watching the students divide and conquer, coach each other through the experiment, and handle small disagreements was most gratifying. While the task was to practice informational writing, it presented a situation where working cooperatively paid off in completing the task. Small steps made now in the primary grades will lead to a successful future for our students as they become college bound and/or career ready. As Dr. Spencer Kagan says, “We live in an interdependent world in which, somewhat paradoxically, the ability to compete depends on the ability to cooperate.”  
 

 
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