Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Putting Myself Out There

We had our last formal science class today that wasn't. At least we were supposed to have our last science class, which would have been a review of the ancient proto-scientists who carried on the idea of an 'atom' and Archimedes' work. With it being so close to Christmas time and the other family not being able to make it, my kids had a great time just hanging out.

I was not sure if I was going to continue. Seeing that I am researching as I go along and have to spend a lot of time preparing for each week, I thought the whole endeavor might end in the fall. The family who didn't attend today I knew would not continue into the new year anyway.

So I must have been in a very competent-feeling mood when I invited some people to start taking the course in January. I invited one of the families from girls' club.

Since we've finally moved out of the ancient times--having skipped Eratosthenes and Ptolemy, our next topic will be gravity. We'll spend a lot of time on Galileo and his pendulums and ramp experiments.


LB said...

Kim, I just did this very experiment with my science group last week and found that even 3 ten year olds per team (1 to count pendulum swings, 1 to release the marble, and one to mark its position on the ramp) and an ever-decreasing incline angle, no one could mark the marble's position (I tried it later - it was harder than it looked). Will you be using the "marble hop" method (placing string at increasing distances along the slope so that its "hop" sounds in a regular period)? I'd like to know how it worked out for you.

Kim said...

I definitely plan on doing a ball down a ramp experiment. The one I read involved using a string at regular intervals and noting that the speed of each 'bump' increased so that you know the ball is accelerating that way. Varying the distance of the string is too complicated for my elementary class. I don't think the kids would be able to understand the d=at/2 in order to properly place the string. I would just be concentrating on showing that it does speed up. I'd really like to explore pendulums, falling bodies, and the path of projectiles.

I already had a devil of a time with the pendulums. Using a tied string, it is very difficult to get the periods to be the same because a small variation in the length changes the period.

My ultimate goal in the gravity unit is to make sure the kids realize that everything is affected by gravity the same way, that the acceleration increases the velocity of a falling body, that all things have a tendency to keep going in the direction they're sent (momentum), the shape of the path of a projectile, and then the idea of a projectile constantly falling but not hitting the ground--satellites and planets.

So I know I'll be doing pendulums, dropping stuff, ramps, and maybe shooting things--if I can find a powerful enough toy, a way to get a decent scale, a decent video. Hey--that pretty much would work into a five-week unit if I can squeeze each into a class.