Friday, June 15, 2012

Science Study: Air Resistance: How to make a parachute

We spent the morning studying air resistance, which of course involved making parachutes out of plastic bags.  We are working our way through a great science book at the moment.

So instead of writing my instructions I decided to make a short video clip so that you can watch how we did it.

I filmed this on my phone(so the quality is not the best).  If you don't understand the instructions, here's a website that can help you.

My science approach with the children is try, try, try.  They were inclined in the beginning to attempt an experiment and if it didn't work the first time, they would just give it up as a failed effort.  But I have been encouraging them to find the problem or the solution to why their experiment did not work.

I ask them questions like:
What do you think made it work/didn't work?
Why do you have a different result to your brother?
What could you do differently to change the results?
What is happening?

This has been one of the best ways to stimulate their thinking because now I don't even have to ask the questions, they just discuss these among themselves.  They also extend the science experiment by changing the variables (if the string were shorter, if we changed the temperature what would it do?).  It does mean that Science can take almost the whole morning but it's amazing what they learn through observation, trial and error, and asking themselves questions.  These are true learning experiences that they will internalize, rather than me just telling them what to do.

Other activities I included were:
An Online game to explain forces in action (very basic but effective especially when they filled out the information in the table and could make a real comparison based on results)
Notebooking where they wrote about their experiences, what they learnt and the experiment they did.  I quickly made a little notebooking page of my own ( was going to share it and then deleted it by accident - I'm clever in that way haha)
They headed to the beach to fly kites, watch kite surfers and learn even more about air resistance.  And they keep making parachutes - different sizes, different length string- I think Chad has already made 5 parachutes.  Definitely a winner with the children!

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