Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Investigation - motion and speed...

Exploring how to manipulate speed....

Today we had a blast exploring how to increase speed using our roller coaster tubes.  I started with a review and we made an anchor chart to show the main points of force and motion: 

Then we did an guided inquiry lesson using our roller coaster tubes.  In order for the students to see that this time we were testing a basic ramp design, I modeled how to make the ramp levels for the students to see.  Then I showed the students how to measure speed with stop watches.  I recommend practicing that for a while.

Then we got into our small groups again and used the sheet to record the speeds each time.  I find that it is important to assign jobs for testing.  Have one person be the recorder, one measure the time, one drop the marble and hold the top of the tube, and one to hold the bottom of the tube.  This seems to work really well.

Here is an example of what the recording sheet looks like.  You can download it for free at the side of the blog where it says:

Q:  How can you increase an object’s (marble) speed?

Plan:  I will….

Use the same materials – tubes, marble and cup. (constant)

        Change the height of the slope each time. (variable)


Smallest slope

Small slope

Medium slope

Tall slope

Tallest slope

Conclusion:  If we increase the height of the slope, then the time will _____________________

Because the speed will ________________________.

What else did you notice?

By the way, my students have so much fun with this unit that today when it was raining, they chose to make roller coasters during inside recess.  A passing adult said, even during recess your kids are doing science!  So true! Love it!

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