Monday, February 15, 2016

Grade 5 Embraces Robotics

Guest Blogger: Rose LaMarca

The fifth grade students brought their imagination and personal life experiences to create robots which can be used in natural disaster areas. It was amazing watching the students work with the same exact tool kits and design distinctive blueprints for original designs. They worked as a team to bring these designs to life by building prototypes. They created original designs that were unique to the groups’ dynamics. The designs were based off of research on the different type of robots and their uses. 

 Another aspect of the unit was to design toys that would appeal to other students. They learned how to work with constraints and criteria. For example, the toy had the following constraints: must contain one moving part and completed within a 1 hour time limit. The designs exceeded the original expectation of the assignment. 

The students also created presentations to explain their thinking behind the design. The students’ conversations were rich with knowledge they had gathered during the study of robots. The culminating project was to design a field site and test the robot design to be able to remove hazards waste. 

The robotic unit gave students the opportunity to demonstrate high levels of knowledge through application. After the robots were completed, the reflective learning continued as the students looked at areas of difficulty with their designs.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Grade 4 - Energy: Collisions

Module 1 in PLTW is coming to a close.  Teachers around the school are running their final problems and the children are having a ball while learning how to plan for and design solutions to problems.  Fourth grade is no different.  After following Mylo, Angelina, and Suzi, from the PLTW story, through lessons on potential and kinetic energy, the children were ready to design safe bumper cars.  Their job: keep their "egg" passenger from breaking while their car was traveling down a ramp.

The teachers had to learn to build their own cars first, for a demonstration. Then the children plowed ahead.  Watching the first eggs crash without any safety mechanisms in place was exciting.  Especially if you draw faces on the eggs first! 

As the children planned a way to, as Sofia, from Mrs. Basini's class explained, "keep their egg secure," their designs became more and more elaborate.  Aashi added, "You had to put protection in the car so the impact of the crash doesn't hurt the egg."  One  very clever group used the plastic egg that came with the kit.  They opened the egg and inserted a magnet.  Then they added a magnet to the car and stuck the two magnets together.  The egg didn't move!  I wonder if soon we will be wearing magnetic pants while driving in our own cars. :)

This unit was magical for the children and the teachers.  As Mrs. Basini vocalized, "This was a journey of science self-discovery."  Well said, Mrs. Basini!

Watch our students in action below: