Saturday, February 15, 2014

Force and Motion: Medieval Style

After learning about castle defense, I put out a challenge to the kids who were interested. I held up a foam cube and told them that the challenge was to design a catapult that would fling the foam shape the furthest.  They could use whatever materials they could find in our room. Many were very excited to take on this engineering challenge! They started exploring materials and testing out their designs. 

After the first challenge, a couple worked very well, but most still had some trouble! This lead to a discussion about why some worked and some didn't.  They looked at the designs of the ones that worked and noticed that they had a way to provide more power and force! 

The next day they all tried again.  I loved the way they would consult with each other and help each other figure out and solve design problems!  There was a lot of testing of designs collaboration, and problem solving going on!

The kids below came up with the idea to measure how far their catapults threw their shapes. 

We did the challenge again and this time almost every one was successful!  This lead to a great discussion about how things aren't our best if we only do them once!  Each time they tested and made changes their catapults improved!  It was a good lesson that showed them how persistence pays off!  

One group decided to design a catapult obstical coarse! I loved the thought, planning, collaboration, and problem solving that it took to create this!  Such a perfect example of learning important life skills through play!

Here are their catapult designs. 

There were a few more, some made with Legos, but they were taken apart before I could get a picture!  Here is the winning design:

We have now finished our investigation about castles! This week, the kids signed up to be in an expert group about a part of our castle inquiry! With thier expert group, they will create a presentation for other classes in our school and for our parents.  This is something new for me! I have had small groups take turns and present to other classes about inquiries, but I have never done a large scale presentation involving the whole class about an inquiry! I am nervous, but also excited and determined to give this a try!  I have met with three of the expert groups and they came up with a list of what they want others to know about thier topic and how they want to present their topic. I will meet with the other two expert groups Tuesday, then each group will investigate their topic further and work on projects for their presentation.

Stay tuned to find out how our expert groups are doing next week!

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