Tuesday, February 28, 2012

May the FORCE be with you....

That's what we have been studying the past couple of weeks- force and how and what balanced and unbalanced forces do to an object.  I really wanted to hit home the fact that force depends on mass or the height something is released.  I can say it all I want, but when the kids do it... and observe what happens... it makes it so much more meaningful.   Here is a brief (sike! I am never brief..) snapshot of the 2 labs we did:

Lab One 
  1. Use a 50g mass and tie a 1meter string (cotton twine) to it.  
  2. Tape the string to the desk so the mass is just barely above the floor.  This is now a pendulum.
  3. Use a wooden cube (mine was about 2in x2in) and place it just in front of the pendulum.  Place a piece of tape where the block starts.
  4. Pull the pendulum 15 cm off the ground using a ruler.  Make sure the string it taut.  
  5. Release and have the pendulum hit the cube.
  6. Measure the distance the cube traveled. 
  7. Repeat 3 times
  8. Find the average distance.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 but this time release the pendulum from 30 cm. 
The kids loved this lab, and everyone played an important part.  We were able to discuss variables as well why as scientists we only change one variable in an experiment.

The other lab we did today.  All you need is 1 pencil (if you still have any left!!! My kids keep on losing theirs... like that's anything new...) 2 cm rulers, 1 meter stick, and washers.  Prior to the lab day, you will need to hot glue some washers together.  You need a set of 2 washers glued together, 3, 4, 5, and 10.  You will also need a single washer.  You can do this with pennies if you would rather, but the washers were a size bigger than the penny, and I didn't have to worry about greedy fingers....

Lab Two
  1. Place a ruler on top of a pencil that is at the 18cm mark on the ruler.  This creates a sort of see-saw. 
  2. Place the single washer on the end that is touching the table.
  3. Hold your meter stick up next to the washer.  This guy is about to fly and you need to see how high it jumps.
  4. Release the 2washers that have been glued together from 30cm (the height of the 2nd ruler) and have it hit the other ruler, thus making the single washer jump up.
  5. Repeat 3 times.
  6. Find average.
  7. Repeat Steps 4-7 except use the other washers.  
The students loved watching the washers fly and were really responsible with everything.

By doing both of these 2 labs, students were able to see that force depends on the height something is released from or how much mass it has.

In closing... I showed this lovely little video to the kids about Isaac Newton and his 3 Laws of Motion.  I LOVE it when I can put a famous scientist into the lesson.... we even made a little foldable book on him after watching the video.  Click on the picture and it will take you to the link :)


May the force is with you!!!

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