Seventh-grade students at Farnsworth Middle School are learning and experimenting with energy. The students are creating, building, and testing catapults and toys to demonstrate potential and kinetic energy in a system. Specifically, transforming potential energy can look different for different toys. Students made catapults as a class, then analyzed the energy in a roller coaster online lab and the final project is student demonstrations of the content, in the form of a toy.
This type of work involves the kids applying what they have learned about potential energy transforming into kinetic energy. Also, they identify elastic potential energy (rubber bands) and gather data for how far they can launch an item (marshmallow).
Collaboration is one of the key benefits of having kids work in small groups with hands-on activities. In addition to students sharing ideas and creating together, they are following important steps in the Engineering and Design Process to solve problems. This process is infused throughout the science curriculum.
As shown in the photos, students are working together on steps of the process including brainstorming, researching, creating, testing, and modifying their designs. In group work, students are also strengthening skills in communication, planning, compromise, and reflection on their work!
The unit comes from the HMH Science Dimensions Textbook series and the module is on Energy and Energy transfer.
What's Next in Ms. Suszek's Science Class:
Students' next hands-on design project is creating shop-vac rockets to launch! The Energy unit leads into a unit on Forces, Motion, and Fields. We look forward to learning about Speed, velocity, acceleration, and friction in addition to other design factors that affect the speed and distance of a rocket launch.