Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reindeer Race! A forces and motion experiment!

When faced with the impossible feat of teaching an actual science lesson days before break, just bring in the reindeer! "Real reindeer?!?!" a student asked... no.. I'm not that good ha! We had a lot of fun with this experiment today though and explored how force affects distance and how gravity can affect motion.

Our first experiment was to race three reindeer going at different inclines. One reindeer was going up, another was going straight or level, and the final reindeer was going downwards. Before the buzzer sounded, we discussed which one we think might win and go the farthest. Most students felt it would be the reindeer going down, because it's easier going downhill. We just couldn't explain why, not yet anyway.

The race began and guess what?! That reindeer going down hill went about 5 inches.. WHAT?! I'm frantically thinking "oh great, a dud". We tried it again.. same result!! This just can't be right though, we really thought he would win! But wait, I notice the straw we used had the ridges on it from where it can bend. I bring this to my students attention and something amazing happened. One kiddo piped in, "Those ridges probably made more friction because it's not as smooth and slowed it down!" Oh friends, I could have cried. YES! I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT!! So we switched out the straw and it worked like a charm. We had a good talk about how scientists and even teachers (whahhhht?) can make mistakes. The beautiful thing is we learned something neat from our mistake.

The next experiment was to blow up balloons at three different sizes- small, medium, and large. The string this time all stayed level. We let the reindeer race again and measured the distance each one traveled. Students then paired up with a partner to discuss how the bigger balloon had more force to push the reindeer down the string.

To reflect on what we learned from the experiments students answered a writing prompt using their conclusions from their experiment recording sheets. These kiddos were so engaged and curious, they wanted to know what would happen if we made some of the balloons heavier than the others or filled some with water. I love to see their little gears turning!

If you'd like to try out these experiments with your class you can check out my product here. It also includes interactive notebook flaps and graphs the students can complete with their observations. I wish we had the time to graph our results! Time just flew by as we did our reindeer races :)

Click HERE for the link!

Merry Christmas! & rock on,


1 comment:

  1. You amaze me every time I read your posts. I think this must have been lots of fun and a powerful lesson to teach the concept. Not to mention over-riding the holiday madness of elementary students at this time of year, long enough to really teach them something. All you needed was snow to dash through.....hmmmmm. Great post!!