What is Going on in the Lab?

Whew! Some weeks are really hard.....my FitBit says I walk 10,000 steps everyday before I get home! This Fit Bit:

I wrote about it, here on the blog, last week. I mentioned I was a little dissatisfied with the silly thing.
A. It's uncomfortable.
B. One cool feature is that it tracks your sleep. But, half the time mine didn't work.
C. It turned into a $100 pedometer.

I took it back.

Now, on to the LAB!!!!!
First up:

Fifth Grade!

We just finished designing and testing parachutes:

And, yes, those are children standing on the table tops.
How else were we supposed to launch a parachute?
For the record, the ones made of tissue paper worked best!

Fourth Grade:
We are in the midst of Electric Circuits. This week kids built circuits based on schematics I left for them:

They also had to build a circuit with given supplies, including switches and buzzers, and then draw the schematic. Pretty fun!
By the way.....
did you know that if you hook one bulb to FIVE batteries that the bulb will explode?

Don't ask me why I know that!

First, we took on Chromatography:

Kids tested markers to separate the ink colors. It was really neat to try the black markers. We tried six different brands.
Do you know what colors are inside black markers?

Then we tried Building Boats:

Some pretty creative designs. Our record for the number of pennies a boat could hold is now 68! 
AND ....Building Boats is now our FAVORITE STEM activity!

(It was fun!)

Have a great rest of your week!!


Roller Coasters!

You completely read the title correctly.
Roller Coasters!

So, about a month ago...after many requests....I decided it was time for Roller Coasters.

I put together an excellent plan!
I thought.

We talked about roller coasters and what we know about them. This was most informative, especially when I posed this question:
What if the second hill on a coaster was taller than the first? Would it work?

Here's the class chart we made with our ideas about coasters and the drawings of two hills. The idea that the second hill cannot be taller than the first was not a sure thing! So, I said, "OK, let's test it!"
I gave each team a tube and told them to make a two hill coaster with the second hill taller than the first.

Let's back up.
We gotta talk about the tubes!

Tubes came from a local home improvement store. You find them in the plumbing area. The tubes are actually used for insulating pipes. I bought about thirty. I bought so many I just took the box, too.
Smart, right! Now, I have a place to store all those tubes!

Next, you have to cut them.

The tubes just happen to have this nifty opening and it's fairly easy to just slide scissors along that line.
Then you have to do the OTHER side!

 Well, lucky me! The tubes I bought had a little line down the center of the reverse side. I was able to cut either right on the line or close to it and wah-lah

All the tubes are cut in half!

So, back to the kids and the experiment with the hills.
Here they are- hard at work:

Here's the best part. Some of them really thought it would work. The looks on their faces when it did NOT work was priceless! True learning!

Anyway, now for the next step in this process. BEFORE we design the ultimate roller coaster--
I decided we needed to learn about energy- specifically kinetic and potential!

So I designed a rotating station task card set.

We had 8 stations! Two involved reading and answering questions:

One task used a website about roller coasters (which was very cool). It shows the kinetic and potential energy along the coaster track:
Click on the picture to go to the roller coaster website!

Another used a car track and marble:

And there were more!
And it was all great fun and we learned a lot about kinetic and potential energy.

Then I had this brilliant idea that friction might also be part of a coaster and we had Friction Lab day:

Well, now...
to be honest
Friction Lab day was not what I expected. We learned a lot, but it has pretty much nothing to do with roller coasters.

The only thing that saved me on this one was:


I gave each team THREE tubes and a roll of tape and a little marble and off they went to create these:

They had to have a loop and at least three hills. We built and re-built and tested and re-built and finally presented our masterpieces!

It was quite spectacular.

About two days after we finished I found a bag of giant marbles that would have been perfect.

On a good note, the tubes are now stored nicely in the giant box and waiting for next year!


Five for Friday! Bridges!

Time for:

I missed last Friday! 
Can't remember why.....
But today I remembered (which is probably why I missed last week...)

Anyway, randomness is my favorite thing and here are my five random thingies from this week- one of which is all about bridges!

So, I was cleaning out a filing cabinet drawer in my classroom this week.....and 
I spied this:

Okay, ya'll! Here's a truth! I decided to start a blog about 18 months ago. It was a very impulsive, on-the-spot decision and I went to Google and started filling in the basic information about my blog. And right away, they asked for a name for my blog. 

Well, I hadn't thought that far ahead. I had no idea.......just sat there looking around, trying to think of a cutesy name..... 
and right there on my desk was that little blue
And there was my blog name!
 My blog and TpT store now have a name inspired by a random brain freeze when I could not think of anything else....probably should not have told this story......but it is kinda funny.

Speaking of funny.....

That is not my cat. But it could be. If I EVER sleep past seven a.m. both of my cats will be sitting on the bed looking at me--- just willing me to wake up because their food bowls just might be empty and they may starve if I sleep even one more second.
Aren't fur babies fun?

So, how are things in my lab this week???
Glad you asked.

I decided it was bridge building time:

Here's what third grade did:
STEM Bridges with index cards

Their task was to use index cards and at first they were fairly whiny. 
"How can we do this?" 
"Are you sure we can't use anything sticky?"
In the end they were quite amazed at themselves. They built great little structures with nary a piece of tape or drop of glue!

Here's what fourth grade did:
STEM Bridges with toothpicks

Yep, that's toothpicks and marshmallows. This was the best version- look at the double supports. Most of them crashed-- fairly quickly.
Also, marshmallows are the worst
sticky mess EVER!
 However,the problem solving and collaboration was intense!

Here's what fifth grade did:
STEM Bridges with Straws

Very sophisticated use of straws and toothpicks, I must say. They actually had toothpicks that braced the structure tightly to the boxes. It worked so much better than the team thought it would- that's the beauty of a STEM Lab. 

Next week we are tackling flower dissection, catapults, and electric circuits.
Not at the same time- different grade levels!

Well, now, how random is that?
Not very, actually, it's my all time favorite TV show! I have only missed ONE episode in all these years it's been on TV. 
April 27, 2011- we had tornadoes in Alabama and no electricity for 5 days. That's the only time I missed it.
Anyway, this year the premise is Beauty vs Brains vs Brawn.
I really dislike the Beauty group. They are such spoiled little babies.
And, boy are they all miserable- cold rain constantly.

I'd like to see a movie star version of Survivor.
Just sayin'.....

Lastly (and some people say the best is saved for last....)

Two more weeks until Spring Break! 

Have a great weekend y'all!

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