Monday, June 13, 2016

"Protect the Freezepop" Engineering Project

Our class participated in the "Protect the Freezepop" engineering project with Mr. Musselman from the Burlington Science Center.  I have been working with Mr. Musselman and a team of Kindergarten Teachers to design lessons for the new Weather and Sunlight unit that will be taught in Kindergarten next year.  We decided to try it with our class this year to see how it went and what we could do differently next year.  Our class was the second to try the project and we had great success!  

The students were presented with the task of building a shade structure that would protect a freezepop from melting so quickly on a warm, sunny day.  The students did a wonderful job using background knowledge, being creative, and working cooperatively in small groups to design and build shade structures.  

The first step was to make a plan.  The students chose which materials they would use and drew sketches of the structures they planned to build.

Next, the students shared their ideas with their group mates and then started building!  They used black paper, white paper, popsicle sticks, clay, and tape.  The tricky part was getting the structures to stay standing!  It was fascinating for me to walk around and engage the students in discussions about why they were or were not using certain materials or why they were building it a certain way.  It was rewarding to hear the students "respectfully disagreeing" with each other as they attempted to mesh all their ideas together into one structure! 

The temperature was cooler but the sun was still shining.  The students discussed the best position for their shade structures and determined how to put their freezepops in the shade.  We put one freezepop directly in the sun so we could compare it to the others.  While waiting for the freezepops to start melting, the students shared design details and predictions with the rest of the class.  They appeared confident to share and excited to see what the results would be!

The freezepop that was left in the sun started melting quickly.  It only took 10-15 minutes for it to turn into some liquid!  Mr. Musselman, Mrs. Gordon, Miss D'Mato and I helped the students pour the liquid from their freezepope into graduated cylinders so we could compare the amounts of liquid from each freezepop.  The freezepop that was left in the sun had 26 mL of liquid and the others (that were protected from the sun) had only about 5-10 mL!  The difference was significant and showed that the students has successfully built structures that protected an object from the heat of the sun!

The students recorded their results and compared amounts.  They also participated in a discussion about how they would modify their shade structures to be even more effective and what we can learn from this experiment.  I was impressed with their ability to make applications such as "Wearing darker colors on a sunny day can make you warmer," and "It's better to wear lighter colors when it's hot."

The students in Room 101 made some great scientists and engineers!  They enjoyed the hands-on experience and commented several times on how much fun they had!  Our morning flew by. The students were actively engaged in their learning ALL MORNING!  Hopefully they will remember and apply what they learned this summer on those really hot days!  We were lucky that all the Room 101 parents gave permission and the students were allowed to eat a freezepop!  We celebrated a successful engineering project with eating a freezepop.  It was fun to see the students experimenting with the freezepops and comparing the different amounts of liquid in their own freezepops. They noticed the pops that were being held where the pops were frozen melted more quickly that the pops that were being held at the top of the package where there wasn't any freezepop.  The students were experimenting while having a few extra minutes of recess!  

We were proud of all the effort the students put forth today.  Thanks to Mrs. Duncan and her Kindergarten Class at Francis Wyman for trying this experiment first. We learned from your process. Science is a lot of trial and error, and we are working hard to learn and implement new curricula together!

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