Monday, October 27, 2014

Creating Science Moments

      The best taught lessons are those where excitement and curiosity are created in each child. A teacher never fully knows when these moments will happen but when they do happen they are magical! Who would have ever guessed that five dixie cups, two straws, a pencil, a push pin, and a hole punch would create this enthusiasm, but for about a week now these few gadgets when assembled together to make an anemometer sparked excitement in our classroom!
     You ask, what exactly is an anemometer?  It is a device used to measure wind speed.  The cups must all face in the same direction so that the wind will spin the anemometer around the axis. (The axis is where the straws cross inside the center cup where they attach by a pushpin to the eraser in a pencil).
Anemometer in a tree!

      As you can see from the photograph the anemometer is very high tech!  The student counts revolutions by following his/her initials on the bottom of one cup to see how many times the cups revolve per minute! Over a period of several days I heard many times, "Look it's spinning, Mrs. Aubin!"!  I just love it when my students are so excited that they can't wait to share their discovery with me!  
     The first day that we tested our anemometers the wind was at a "light breeze" according to the Beaufort Scale.  Sir Francis Beaufort in 1805 developed the Beaufort Scale to measure and categorize wind speed. Don't ask me why but it's simplicity makes me laugh, but I must admit it served our purposes well while testing our anemometers.
The Beaufort Scale:
     I guess with all of todays truly high tech gadgets like: i-phones, i-pads, chromebooks, lap tops, weather sensors, GPSs, altimeters, barometers, survival tablets...etc,  make a scale from 1805 seems, well actually, kind of refreshing in a way! I must admit for our purposes the Beaufort scale was exactly the right tool to use and gave us information to discuss our findings intelligently.

Making anemometers

   Truthfully, during our first attempt at using our anemometers we weren't 100% that they were working correctly so we referred to the Beaufort Scale and decided that we needed to try them out again on a day when we could clearly see small trees swaying!  Day after day, the kids looked out our window looking for just one glorious windy day! Then it happened! It didn't happen during science though, it happened during math class but who cares what class it is when in-depth science experimentation must take place! We had to go with our hunches and claim the moment! What's good teaching with out a little flexibility afterall! We grabbed our jackets, we huddled in masses to get our anemometers, we gathered the key fob to get outside, and away we were! I heard multiple children yell excitedly, "Look Mrs. Aubin, my anemometer is working. It's so cool. Look how fast it is going." In response I stated "wow, that's great, now lets count the rotations." So we did! We were in math class after all! We determined from the Beaufort Scale that we were standing in a fresh breeze! Yes, fresh and refreshing it was, because our anemometers did actually work!! Hurray!! We were able to correctly conclude that our anemometers needed a wind speed of 19-24 MPH to spin in a speedy fashion, like a pinwheel!

     We also were able to once again prove that cross-curricular teaching expands a students world by tying curricula together! Math and science do go hand-in-hand. We needed math to calculate the wind speed and rotations the anemometer took. I never want to hear my students say, "why do we need algebra, math, and science".  Instead, I want to show them why they need algebra, math, and science and in doing so let them see how all courses are often interconnected. The best moments in science happen all around us every day!

Parent Links:

Responsible for Teaching Our Children Kindness-Even if it Ruins the Fun.

How Exercise Affects the Brain:  Age and Genetics Play a role

Educator Links:
How Can Students Have More to Say in School Decisions?

Fifteen Tools for Better Project-Based Learning

Mitt Aubin's Book Review:
   Kate DiCamillo's book, Mercy Watson to the Rescue, simply put is FUN!!!! Mr. and Mrs. Watson have a pet pig named, "Mercy".  Mercy is none less than a porcine wonder!  A book full of laughs for a lovable pet! Even the Watson's neighbors are hysterical! The ages recommended for this book are 6-8, but it is also fun for slightly older kids too. The text is indeed engaging! The characters in story are funny and lively.  The illustrations by Chris Van Dusen are bright, and colorful. They give the text a warm, retro look.  This is an overall great book that this teacher highly recommends!

Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen