Balance and Motion

      Our Second grade class started to learn about the forces of motion, gravity and balance. Mrs. Hassler, a second grade teacher, adapted the FOSS science curriculum to be a transdisciplinary unit. She started out by planning what students need to know at the end of the unit. She then took some of the lessons in FOSS and made them more engaging and applicable. 

       Mrs. Hassler wanted to pull out the STEM in this unit. So she began brainstorming with her STEM Coordinator. Together they thought about the application of these skills. They thought of things like bicycles, roller coasters, ski lifts and even run away truk ramps. Out of all of those topics they decided on what would be most engaging for students... Roller Coasters! Next, they dived into pulling out the math from the science content. "Graphing seems to work well with comparing data" said Mrs. Hassler. "What about having the students time how fast the marble goes through the track?" replied the STEM Coordinator. "Oh yeah, then we can have the students measure the height of the marble and how far it travels, and then average the measurements" added Mrs. Hassler. They both agreed that there were many math connections in this unit and that students should lead the charge in how they test their theories on balance and motion.

      Students began exploring balance and motion with marbles and tracks. Students had some time to become familiar with the items before being asked our essential question, How does height affect the speed and distance of a marble? After students familiarized themselves with the materials, they began to brainstorm ways to test out the essential question. Some students placed the track on a chair, while others simply held the track. Mrs. hassler then intervened, "How can we standardize our experiments? Good scientists need to replicate their experiments, so how can we do the same experiment and show other people?"

    The class came up with a chart to record their data. They also decided to use a yard stick to measure the height of the marble drop and tape the track to the wall. After the marble reacher the end of the track, students decided to use tape measures to see how far the marble traveled. They also wanted to measure the speed so they decided to time how fast the marble traveled down the track.

      "It was super fun," says James, a second grade in Mrs. Hassler's class. "We got to do a loop de loop and the higher the marble was, the faster it went down the track and the farther it went in the classroom," said James. "Mine went thirty feet," shouted Darian excitedly. When asked what the students learned they replied, "The marble goes zoom zoom when it's placed higher. The lower the marble was when we dropped it, the slower it went."

      This project proves that creativity and application can bring excitement and real world knowledge into the classroom while empowering students to try new experiments.