Monday, October 17, 2011

First Day of Science Club

Several months ago (June 2010) I graduated from Lesley University's Online Masters Program in Science Education. It was a wonderful program that was developed by TERC and supported by some amazing professors. (Sally Crissman and Sue Doubler to name a few)  In this program, we had to participate in our own inquiry science investigations for each content area.  It's a GREAT program if you are pondering getting your masters - online and I felt like I was truly learning good stuff!   (Hi Jaime! a friend I met during the program)

 When we got to the STEM section, we studied the effect of building structures and earthquakes.  At the time I was taking the course, we experienced not only the Haiti earthquake but the one in Chile as well.  It was quite interesting because the results were extremely different. 

That's my son Jack helping me out!

We needed to make structures and test them on our own "earthquake table" - a machine that involved a crank that shook our structures to the ground! I have kept this earthquake table and bring it out each year to use in science club. Today was the day I dusted off the cobwebs and cranked it up!

A little background on science club: This is the third year that I have been leading a science club with a fellow fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jones.  We open it up to 4th and 5th graders and charge a small fee to pay for supplies, snacks and a small stipend for our time.  We do scholarship a few students each year as well. Today we had 35 students! Wow!

Our first science club of the year follows the theme of "earthquakes".  It's fitting due to the fact that we all experienced our first earthquake this summer right before school started.  We started by showing photos of the minimal damage our school incurred and then showed them photos of the major damage in Haiti.  Both quakes were about the same force, but why did we get less damage? The answer:  it's all in the building codes of our structures.

Our challenge was to build structures that have a door, a window and a roof.  The students had four people in their groups and were allowed to choose from materials such as: craft sticks, string, toothpicks, clay, glue and pipe cleaners.  We spent 45 minutes constructing our buildings and set them aside to have plenty of time to dry. 

Next week we will test them on the earthquake table and then rebuild and redesign...until they get it right!

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