Fifth graders continued work on their world maps this week. Students are finishing measuring and sketching continents to approximate their sizes. Next, they will glue continents to their maps and begin researching/labeling physical and political features. We discovered one mistake in our maps -- we didn't realize that the prime meridian is curved on the Robinson projection. We had just counted 12 lines of longitude and assumed that marked the prime meridian -- oops!
Third graders are comparing the effectiveness of different brands of paper towels. This experiment originated from students complaining about how the school's paper towels do not absorb spills. We decided to test how much water they absorb compared to store-bought paper towels and then calculate the cost effectiveness of each brand of towel.
This week, third graders measured and cut equal-area sample sizes from each brand of paper towel. We discovered that even though manufacturers typically list the amount in each roll in terms of square feet, that paper towel rolls are actually only 11 inches in height. The school's towel rolls are 7 inches in height. We had to do some division to find an approximate length so that our sample sizes would each be one square foot in area.
The next step in this experiment is to test absorption by thoroughly soaking each sample and then comparing its wet weight to its dry weight.
Fourth graders completed a "black box" activity to explore how scientists often must make indirect observations to form hypotheses. Students had to match 12 different Obs-Certainers to diagrams of their internal configurations. Their only clue -- a small steel ball enclosed in the Obs-Certainer. This was a challenging but fun lab!
I introduced a new class-starter activity this week -- analogies. We discussed how analogies work and looked at several common types of analogies. Each week, we will examine a new type of analogy at the start of GATE class.
First and second graders were challenged with discovering a rule for why some creatures were "Cheatos" and others weren't. Students observed several examples and nonexamples before developing a theory. They had the opportunity to test their theory by drawing their own Cheato and asking if it was a true example. This was a good activity to practice observation within the context of analytical thinking.
Fourth grade completed a teamwork activity based on the wordless book Zoom by Istvan Banyai. Students received 2-3 pages from the book and had to work together to put the pages in order. There was one significant constraint -- students could not show their pictures to anyone. The class eventually decided it was more efficient to work together as one large group rather than having individual discussions. After a lot of description and careful attention, students were successful in recreating the story in the correct sequence.