What's Going on in the Lab? Bungee Jumps!

Oh my goodness y'all!! This post is jam-packed with deliciousness all about our latest STEM Adventure!
All About Bungee Jumping!
STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

Let me just tell you that when this began to come together I was so excited! I knew my fifth graders would LOVE this! And they did!

First, you have to watch this. I just learned how to make movies and I am having a blast producing things! You should see my cat movies.....
Okay, that was pretty cool, I know!
Here's the background of this challenge!

This idea came from a student! She mentioned bungee jumping one day as we were talking about our fourth graders recent visit to the Space and Rocket Center. It seems they have a bungee jumping contraption there that many of our students tried. (Not a real tower jump, more like a trampoline.) Anyway, I started thinking about jumping or dropping something. My first thought was to use eggs..... then I thought about a Barbie doll!

First off, I needed Barbies!
Off to the Dollar Tree. I came home with a bag full of Barbies, added weights to them to make them a little heavier and then attached our "bungee cords".
STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

Okay, what to do with them? My students love to experiment so I added some testing to this.
The kids tested Barbie with an increasing number of cords.
STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!
They filled out a data table with the jump results and averaged the data for each test level.
Then, are you ready for this??
We used the data to plot points on a line graph and did some fabulous math to extend our graph lines and predict how many cords would be needed to drop Barbie from a much higher spot.

After deciding the number of cords, kids got the dolls ready and I stood on a stool to drop her from our doorway.
The arrows in the photos below are pointing to Barbie. It's hard to catch a Barbie in a still shot- especially when I had students taking the photos!
STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!
This was such fun and SO FULL OF MATH!
This challenge is now number three on our list of favorites- right behind Pancakes and Roller Coasters!

STEM Challenge:Can you find the exact number of bungee cords Barbie needs to have a safe jump? Experiment and find out- then design the perfect device!

Join me next week for more:
Coming Soon:
Paper Bridges
Marble Runs
Flood Barriers
Water Towers
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What's Going on in the Lab? Catapults!

Welcome back to my Wednesday Updates!
Most Wednesdays you can join me right here for a little blurb about what we have been up to lately!

This week it's all about Catapults!
STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!

This is one of the first STEM Challenges I ever tried and I pulled it out the other day and decided to add a little zing to it!
It was already an experimentation and then design challenge, but I wanted to beef up the experimenting a little. The original plan was to have the kids invent their own experimentation.

Okay, well, epic fail on my part. I forgot that when kids are free to invent they really do......
with extreme measures.
Look at this photo:
STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!
See the little cross beam. In that photo it is made of two craft sticks.
Kids are supposed to increase that number and change the angle of the catapult so the projectile will go farther (or not!)
Well, when given the freedom to test whatever they want, kids will right away, without thinking, add as many craft sticks as possible. I mean, up to ten sticks!
STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!
The one above has about 5 sticks.
Well, okay, you say, isn't that what they are supposed to do?
Well, yes.
My plan was to have them test many different amounts of cross beam sticks and determine which amount produced the best angle for sending the projectile the greatest distance or for the highest height.
This doesn't happen when they are trying to out-do one another with the LARGEST amount of craft sticks they can poke into their catapults.

UGH!
So, I revamped the data table and led the group through a plan of testing two sticks, then three, and so on. Eventually, they will use their data to build the best version of the catapult to complete some performance tasks!

Kids LOVE THIS CHALLENGE!
Here's some more fabulous shots!
STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!
Do you love the one above! I DO! Look how closely they are working together and they are so engaged in this I don't think they even know it!
After measuring the distances the projectiles fly, the number is recorded and after five test flights the kids average the distances.

STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!
Long ago I decided not to reinvent the wheel with measuring in this classroom. Those floor tiles are 12 inches. We use the tiles and only measure the partial tile distance.
Look at the photo below to see kids measuring a partial tile.

STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!

STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!

STEM Challenge: Experiment with catapults and angles and then build the best version possible! Fabulous challenge using the scientific method and engineering design process! Blog post tells you more and has fantastic photos of kids in action!
I love this challenge!
It uses a ton of math- measuring, addition, averaging, and using data tables.
It follows the scientific method and the engineering design process.
And did I already say this:
KIDS LOVE IT!

Join me next Wednesday for what we are doing in the lab!

Coming soon:
Marble Runs
Bungee Jumps
Paper Bridges
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Five for Friday-Things I Learned in Texas

Hello y'all!
Fall Break was earlier this week! We were off on Monday and Tuesday and I also took last Friday off so that made a great long weekend!
Perfect for tackling our Bucket List!
This trip took care of "Going to Texas"!

I know this blog is an Education blog so I decided to share some things I learned! And what better way than a link up with Kacey and Five for Friday!

So, here you go:

First up is our visit to The Sixth Street Museum which is the location of the Texas Book Depository and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In the photo above the arrow is pointing to the window where Lee Harvey Oswald was standing when he shot Kennedy.

At the museum you are given an audio box and earphones and then guide yourself through displays of photos and artifacts. The story is quite compelling as it leads you through the Kennedy's entire day.  They were campaigning and hitting many cities. When they reached Dallas the plan was to ride in a parade through downtown and Kennedy decided to forgo the protective top on his car. You know the rest of the story, but here is what I learned. The parade route had to make a right turn and then almost a U-turn right in front of the book depository. This made all the cars slow to be able to  turn. The hubs and I stood almost right at the window where Lee Harvey Oswald was standing with a rifle. It is incredibly close even though he was on the sixth floor. I always pictured this as being an impossible shot, but it wasn't at all. Take at look at my photo below.
The yellow star is about where Kennedy's car was with the building in the background. It is not that far! 
Overall, I would say this was one of our favorite museum visits. We both left with a new understanding of JFK's death and the possible conspiracy!

Second thing we learned is just random facts about some really unusual animals.
We visited the Dallas World Aquarium. Spectacular place to see!
It is a large building that houses a great variety of birds, water animals,  monkeys, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and more! It is put together in an unusual way with twisting wooden paths you follow through several floors. It was extremely informative with little stops when you could check out more information about the animals being viewed by using a tablet. 
Here's my favorite animals:
In the photo above you see Garden Eels. This is a snake-like animal that lives in a burrow. They secrete a special fluid that coats the burrow so that if they move straight up and down and almost out of the tunnel it does not collapse and then the eel can move right back down the tunnel. Once this eel builds its burrow it almost never leaves. To eat it just lowers itself into the sand and waits on food to float by. Then out it pops!
The animal above is a Lion fish. It is quite beautiful to watch, but the information about it said it is secretive and hides all day. At night they come out and hunt in packs. Very predatory! Very beautiful to watch!
The one above is a leafy sea dragon! He was also very pretty and very well camouflaged with its leaf-like fins. They float aimlessly and blend into the background. They live in the waters of Australia. I think I could float pretty aimlessly there myself!
Last are the flamingos. The silly things are gorgeous, but they sleep standing up - on ONE leg. Here's  what I don't understand: Their one support leg is TREMBLING! Visibly shaking. Why don't they just use two legs???


So, here's number three- the third thing I learned.
I already knew this, but it was so reinforced on this trip.
It's this moment:

We were so lucky to be able to attend two sporting events in Dallas. Of course, the Cowboys, but also the Rangers! The Rangers played Game 3 of their division playoff and the Cowboys played the Patriots.
 But, no matter how awesome those games were, the moment I will remember in both are in the photos. When the National Anthem is sung and the crowd sings along, especially the soaring lyrics near the end, it is amazing. I always get goosebumps. It is a moment when every person in the crowd is on the same team- for a few minutes.

Here's the fourth thing I learned:
Again, this is something I already knew, but still find it really amazing!
On our last morning in Texas we decided to just drive, with no destination in mind. We just wanted to see the Texas landscape. Imagine our surprise when we saw this sign:
I live in a little town called Decatur. But not in Texas.....
Well, by the time we saw this sign we were almost there and of course we had to stop!
We parked on the town square and walked around the county courthouse. Then we visited a quaint antique shop and since it was lunch time we asked the store owner for a local restaurant recommendation.
This is something I already knew, but maybe you will learn from this. If you are hungry and in a new town ask a local for the best place to eat.
The sweet lady told us to go to:
And it was the best food of our trip! If you ever get down to Decatur, Texas stop in and ask for their squash casserole. Divine!

And finally, let's end this on a science note.
I totally marveled at the complexity of the Cowboys' stadium. It is truly a magnificent structure and the feats of engineering that brought it about are stunning.
Take a look:
See the metal leg on the outside of the building.
Now look below:
That leg on the outside forms this arch on the inside and that is what is holding that building up!
In the photo above the arrow is pointing to several tracks. Those large windows are on each end of the stadium and when it is needed they slide open. There are six windows and they will open completely in 6 minutes by sliding on the tracks. We were told on our tour that both sides must be opened at the same time or the change in pressure will cause the unopened windows to break!
Alright, let's talk about the jumbotron! Yikes, that TV screen is ELEVEN stories tall! ELEVEN! The TVs on each end of it are also massive and you can see inside them and see the separate floors that people can walk on if the sets need repairs- like replacing any of the 30 million light bulbs. The big TV weighs 1.2 million pounds. And if you are not yet astounded - the thing's cost was $40 million.
Yep.
And if you are still not convinced this stadium is massive take a look below at the 18 wheeler inside the stadium.


So, that is what I have learned (or re-learned) this week!
How about you?


6

What's Going on in the Lab? Effervescing Tablets!

So glad to see you again with my Wednesday updates.
Most Wednesdays you can find some updates about what we are doing in the lab!
It seems like we are doing a lot and how on earth can we do so much?
I have three grade levels. That's one reason.
Second reason is simple: As hard as I try I cannot keep every class moving at the same rate, so inevitably I end up with a class or two that is ahead of others. One third grade group might be finishing volume with popcorn while another has started experimenting with flood barriers. The same thing is happening in the other two grade levels so I may have 6-7 different challenges going on at the SAME TIME! That is why this Wednesday update is jam-packed!

So recently we tried EFFERVESCING TABLETS!
Say that three times fast!

STEM Challenge: This is a great experiment and design challenge. Students experiment and then design new things to test! Blog post with photos!

So, here's the background....
third graders need some help with understanding the Scientific Method.
Jeez, I need help with it, too!
When you start talking about variables, controlled ones, dependent ones, and independent ones it makes my head spin.
So, anyway, with eight year olds it is really fun to get them to understand controlled variables and how to make the experiments fair.
To keep them interested I have to make the experiments super cool!

So, we start with this:
STEM Challenge: This is a great experiment and design challenge. Students experiment and then design new things to test! Blog post with photos!

Usually, when they walk in and see trays set up like this I hear someone say, "Oh yay, we are doing real science today!"

(Just for your convenience: Kids needed a way to measure an amount of water to use with each experiment. The larger cups came from Wal Mart and the smaller ones I found on Amazon. The image below is clickable!)

For this Scientific Method exploration we first had to learn the word Effervescing.
It means a bubbling effect due to a chemical reaction and the result is dissolving. Think Alka Seltzer and you will totally get it!
Then we set out to learn how to fill in lab sheets....
STEM and Experiment challenge: Kids conduct an experiment with effervescing tablets and record their data! Check this blog post for mote!

The question was, "What will make the effervescing tablet dissolve faster?"
The little sweetie above wrote, "I predict saliva or some sort of acid will make it faster."
Yeah, cause we are definitely going to use our saliva..... but he was thinking!

After forming a hypothesis we set about to test the effervescing tablets. This was a very planned procedure with everyone doing it at the SAME TIME because these are third graders and they could not be turned loose with fizzing and bubbling and watching the clock at the same time.
STEM Challenge: This is a great experiment and design challenge. Students experiment and then design new things to test! Blog post with photos!

We timed the dissolving by using a very large stopwatch from a website I found. Here's the link: Stopwatch
The kids recorded their results.
 And in the end they worded a conclusion to the experiment.
Experiment and Design: Kids conduct an experiment with effervescing tablets and record their data. Next, they design the next part of the experiment. Check this blog post for more!


Drawing a conclusion! Students use their experiment data to reach a conclusion based on their hypothesis and test results! Check this blog post for more!

Here's the most popular wording of our conclusion, "Hot water is faster. But it will hurt you if you drink it!"
Overall, this was a big hit with my third graders! If I were using this with older students I would give them stop watches and let them time their own tests and I would allow them to choose what to test. Personally, I think dissolving it in coffee would be best for me!
You can read more about this challenge right {HERE}!

So, that's what we have been up to lately? What is going on with your science class?
Join me next Wednesday for more:
Next up:
Catapults
Marble Runs
Bungee Jumps
Flood Barriers
In this post, for your convenience you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running and helps fund give-aways!

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Geodesic Dome Time

Welcome back STEM Friends!

STEM Challenge: Building domes in the STEM Lab! A very mathematical challenge with a lot of trial and error! Includes measuring, geometry, and more! Check the blog post for more photos!

It's all about these Geodesic Domes!
Okay, let's start with some background.
We saw a geodesic dome while on vacation in Texas and this inspired the challenge.

Here's a typical geodesic dome.
Pretty cool, right? So I started thinking of how we could build something like this and then I found this photo:
This one seemed a lot more doable for fifth graders.
I mean, after all, it's a just a bunch of connected triangles, right?

BAM! We could build this and I had thousands, yes thousands, of the perfect supply:
STRAWS
(Have you read my blog post about Straws, yet?)

So, I had my fifth graders bring their personal devices to class one day and they spent some time reading about geodesic domes and sketching ideas.
STEM Challenge: Building domes in the STEM Lab! A very mathematical challenge with a lot of trial and error! Includes measuring, geometry, and more! Check the blog post for more photos!
Y'all, look at that last drawing.
Really.
The sweet young man labeled his drawing with a Key. The dots are pipe cleaners and the lines are straws..... If I were writing this on my phone I would insert one of those emojis of a person laughing with tears coming out of their eyeballs.....

Okay, now the teams talked and had to make a monumental decision about the geodesic structure.
Would it be a dome or a sphere?
I am not going to lie to you about this.
This was a major decision.
We wanted spheres because they were really the coolest things ever.
Here is what we got instead:
STEM Challenge: Building domes in the STEM Lab! A very mathematical challenge with a lot of trial and error! Includes measuring, geometry, and more! Check the blog post for more photos!
It is hard to make a sphere.
So, some of us changed our plans and made fabulous dome shapes.
It was purely fun and so mathematical, dare I say!

Take a look:
STEM Challenge: Building domes in the STEM Lab! A very mathematical challenge with a lot of trial and error! Includes measuring, geometry, and more! Check the blog post for more photos!
Connecting triangles made little hexagons. Then a bunch of hexagons made a really large hexagon.
I had a fifth grader say this, "We should have already known this stuff about the triangles and hexagons cause of pattern blocks!"

Anyway, we ended up with some dome shapes and a few almost spherical shapes and it was EASY-PEASY. The best kind of STEM Challenge!
STEM Challenge: Two supplies, lots of research, lots of trial and error, lots of math, and load of fun! Building geodesic domes in the STEM Lab! Blog post includes more photos!


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