This year, I teach Math and Science to Year 3 – Year 6. Because of our multi-age classrooms, our science standards are staggered among the 4 year groups so that students are not repeating the same science curriculum with me each year. Last year, we studied simple and complex machines and built cars as part of our unit. You can find all of the information in this old blog post or in my Designing Machines unit.
After all that fun last year, the kids started asking on the first day of school what we would be building this year. My physical science unit this year is heating and cooling. So, I asked my students to build an insulation device. The challenge was to keep a frozen water bottle frozen for an entire school day. We had already learned about conducting and insulating materials, as well as how color absorbs heat, so we took the principles we had learned and designed devices. Students designed their devices at school, and then took their design home to execute it. Download the sheet from Google Docs if you would like to build these with your class.
Finally, the students brought in their devices and we tested them out. I supplied each student with a water bottle that had been frozen solid. The students put their water bottles into their devices and set out to wait.
We also set an additional frozen water bottle on the counter as a “control”.
At the end of the day, we measured the water that had melted. The device which allowed the least amount of water out won a prize – a lollipop and a certificate. I also handed out a prize for most unique design and most attractive device. This was our wining device, which include a box inside a box, and a Styrofoam plate and bubble wrap for extra insulation:
The next day, we had a whole class discussion on the different devices and why some devices worked better than others. The students also reflected in their science journals about what they would do differently if they had this to do again. I was proud to hear lots of good science vocabulary and all of the concepts we had learned about in both our discussion and the student reflections.