Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Oaxaca Waldorf back-to-school physics unit

As I'm researching alternative and Waldorf schools online and planning for the first weeks of our Oaxaca Waldorf school and constructivist curriculum, it occurs to me that others may benefit from the fruits of my research. I've planned a physics unit for our back-to-school curriculum, and thought I would post it here.


Days 1-2:
Introduce materials: balls of different sizes, objects to measure distance, marbles, marble run materials
SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 1: Ask a question.
How do we make objects move at different speeds?
Draw/write predictions in science and nature notebooks.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 2: Do background research.
Children explore materials.
Discuss observations.
Write and draw children's observations for them to elaborate upon in their notebooks.
Introduce vocabulary of force and motion.
Ask children for examples demonstrating force and motion.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 3: Construct a hypothesis.
Pose questions for the next experiments.
How to increase force? How to decrease force?
How to increase motion? How to decrease motion?
Students can draw/write their hypotheses in their notebooks.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 4: Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment.
Children brainstorm ways to test their hypotheses.
Children discuss the results.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 5: Analyze data and draw a conclusion.
If children did not measure their results, introduce the concept of analyzing how to quantify the level of force or the level of movement to illustrate their findings. They may suggest timing how long it take a ball or marble to travel a distance, using objects to measure how far something rolls, or another method. Give them time to explore systems of measurement and methods for ensuring accurate measurement.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD Step 6: Communicate results.
Discuss/write/draw results of measuring force and motion.
Students can show the results on a graph or chart if they wish.

Day 3:
Repeat same experiments using the variable of friction.

Spark the students' imagination by asking methods for slowing down marbles on a marble run, or for stopping them. Ask what outside substances or elements can accomplish this feat. Test these elements and chart results to compare with the previous days' results.

Day 4:
Go on a walk and look for evidence of force and motion. Children may notice the wind blowing, birds flying, someone bicycling, etc. Prompt students for examples of how friction can slow down these examples, or how increased force can affect the motion. Student can take notes or draw sketches in notebooks to remember these examples.
Writing connection:
Return to classroom.
Have students use the notes from the walk to create a story or poem based on force and motion. The story may be a literal description of the walk, or it may use elements of the walk as inspiration for a story about the wind, a roller coaster, wheels, or other things that evoke the theme. Students can practice reading their stories with the teacher or each other before reading it with a preschool buddy.

Day 5:
Field trip activity:
Bike riding, scootering, skateboarding and force and motion. Use or design ramps or hills to affect motion.

Day 6:
Write about the field trip activity as a group or individually.
Apply the learning about force and motion to discuss and write about how you would design a roller coaster.
Storytelling: Share stories about amusement park rides or other fun activities using force and motion.

Day 7:
Read about machines that involve force and motion.
Brainstorm a list of machines and inventions that integrate force and motion.
Select a simple machine to sketch, design, and build. (Some easy possibilities include a pulley, a lever-based machine, a balance, a pinwheel, or a ramp).
Make a list of materials and scavenge what you can from outside and inside. Circle the remaining items for the teacher to bring in the next day.
Draw a few sketches of the simple machine.

Day 8:
Refer to sketches and build a simple machine.
Test the capability of the machine and refine its design.
Share the results with the class, teacher, and preschool group.

Day 9:
Draw a comic strip showing the sequence of how you made the simple machine.
Extension: Read other stories about simple machines.

Day 10:
Drama, music, and dance connection:
Create a movement-based piece about force and motion. It might involve miming walking against the wind, pretending to be on a roller coaster, or pulling a heaving load.
Perform the piece for the preschool class.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

You go girl!