Goes Up, Must Come Down!
I chose this inquiry because I was in between units and I wanted to review the scientific method, and have the kids look at inquiry. I was also getting ready to tackle my motion unit, so the words in this activity (speed and mass) were useful as an introduction! I liked how hands-on this activity was with the different objects. The kids really enjoyed designing the tests, deciding on one uniform idea, then going ahead and testing the question. I would change how the worksheet is set up because it doesn't allow for many tests to be completed. I had my students complete 12 different tests, so they just added their data on looseleaf. In math, after we completed the four days of the activity, we created a class graph to look at our information, in a mathematical way. These really helped the kids see the true results. Bringing out the bowling ball was so fun, for me and the students!
This was a very exciting lesson to do with Nancy and her third grade students. We chose this inquiry because it tied to a third grade science content standard.
We did make a few changes to the inquiry. For one, I did modify the student response sheets for some of the special education students in the class. The one thing we changed is that we added in the feature of weighing the 2 items that the students chose to drop. This helped us know if the students were basing their predictions on the mass or if they were basing it on just size or a random guess.
We did utilize balance scales to connect this to both math and science units. It was a great follow up to the decomposing fruit in the jar center in Nancy's classroom because the students already had the knowledge of how to acurately use a balance scale and measure with gram weights. It was great to see them transfer this skill. We also did utilize a Venn Diagram by comparing the golf ball to the bowling ball.
My students really enjoyed getting to design and conduct their own experiment. They were thrilled and amazed to discover that the bowling ball and golfball fall to Earth at the same time.
I chose this activity because we were in the middle of a lesson on Forces. I have always looked for "hands-on" ideas for teaching the concept of gravity and free fall. This activity gave me the opportunity to not only explore the concept of gravity but also capitalize on students ability to problem solve (i.e. students having to come up with a way to test which object would win in a free fall). I liked the fact that students were "turned loose" in discovering the best method for testing which object would win. This really allowed students the ability to use creativity and critical thinking skills in developing their methods. It also gave students an opportunity to work together with a team in solving this problem. I wouldn't change anything about this inquiry. I thought it was a great activity and fit in well with my Force unit. I did get a free bowling ball out of teaching this activity from the local bowling alley (not a good one--but then I wouldn't know a good one from a bad one). I also must add that it is very difficult to hold an 18 pound bowling ball and a golf ball at arms length standing on a ladder... especially when students have developed a critical eye for which one gets dropped first :)