Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer of Science: Floating and Sinking

When I taught 5th grade Science we had an entire unit on Floating and Sinking. It seems a little silly to me that we are teaching concepts regarding bouyancy as late as 5th grade, however there were several students who still didn't have enough experience with density as a property to understand that it was more than an objects size or weight that determined whether it would float or not. Therefore, it is never to early to start providing those experiences.

Today for science time, we did an activity to test out some household items and whether they would float or sink.

I pulled some assorted items:

We have here:
A leaf, an outlet cover, a silicon muffin cup, a rubber band, a knife cover, a paper clip, a quarter, a plastic lid, and a penny

I set up a testing station with a bucket of water, slotted spoon for item retrieval, absorbent pad (this is designed to set washed fruits and vegetables on without leaving water all over your counter) and a dish towel.

We set up our journal page to record the object and whether it was a prediction or a result and then provided two columns: one for floating, one for sinking.

At the end of my page in my journal, I recorded what I noticed about the objects that float and what I noticed about the objects that sank. In the remaining space, I recorded the definition for the word "Density". If I were doing this with a class, I would have provided that vocabulary word at some point when students described the idea, so this seemed a logical place to write it.

Evelyn's journal looked slightly different.

I had her draw her own dividing lines and also fold her paper to create columns. I wrote the words in and checked where she told me to for each guess and result she had. I did, however, make her write the date. I'm pretty big about writing the date on things. It's a habit I want her to have early.

Then to help her reflect, we simply talked about what she learned and I wrote down what she said.

Evelyn was focused on "plastic" vs. "metal" as she classifies the two things. She said plastic floats and metal sinks. When she got to the rubber band, she determined that rubber is like plastic and then predicted from that association that a rubber band would float like the plastic did.

 Then I created a t-chart and asked her to write three things that she discovered would sink and three things that would float. (Writing practice anyone?)

To help her with item spellings, I put my journal under hers with the desired item lined up at the top. She could then look to see what order her letters needed to be in.  

Her results.

This was kind of lack luster compared to the excitement that was leaf rubbings yesterday, but it was raining and wet outside so this was a decent substitute for outdoor science observations.

Store this in rainy day plans! We can repeat it with different items. Maybe try a deflated balloon and a blown up balloon or test a piece of cloth and watch what happens over time!

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