Introduce students to designing and making things in a scientific context. Activity went well, students were all engaged, had a productive science class-wide discussion about what worked well and what did not; including role of volume, shape of boat.
Week 2: Intro to Earthquakes: Open-ended science discussion
STOMPers brought in a model they had constructed of "the ground shaking" out of some craft materials and an NXT motor. STOMPers presented the model to the class as one constructed by another team, with different materials but studying the same topics. The class watched the model run, and then wrote in their science journal answers to the following questions: What is this a model of? What does the model do well? What about it could be improved? Students then talked about the model in small groups, then as a class. Once it had been fleshed out, we did a blind vote on whether or not to accept the model into our class and use it for testing further projects. The class voted to accept it, although a few kids disagreed---we had a discussion with students sharing arguments on both sides. After the model had been accepted, we challenged them to build a two-story house out of raw spaghetti and clay that could survive the earthquake simulation. We thought it would be difficult given the materials and the building requirements (the base could only be a certain size) but all groups built surviving structures; many groups did not the first time, but did a redesign. This was a great culminating activity for the past 4 weeks of classes.
Week 7: Introduction to Electricity--Squishy Circuits
Opened class with a discussion about electricity, conductors and insulators. Talked about circuits, what a "closed-circuit" means and looks like. Did a demo of a circuit with play-doh and an LED. Also demo-ed a circuit with water vs distilled water-what is the difference? What makes certain materials conductive? Students then had ~30 minutes to experiment freely with Squishy Circuits-lighting lights, powering motors.
Materials: Play-Doh, 9-Volt Batteries, LEDs, small motors.
Week 8-9: Final Project: Build an Earthquake Sensing Circuit
Fellows: Alyssa Kody and Daniel Pavitt