Friday, April 28

Pulleys, momentum, potential energy and ROLLERCOASTERS

Little Chic had a field trip to the Kopernik Observatory today with her 3rd grade class. These excursions are always great for me, because Science would not have been one of my more favored subjects in school. I generally remembered the facts long enough to fill in the answers on the test and then promptly forgot them. Therefore, my transcripts show that I should be brilliant enough to be a rocket scientist, but truthfully, I'm one of the duller colors in the crayon box when it comes to scientific data. I invited myself to go along and it proved to me that my kids are learning in grade school what I'm sure I didn't cover until at least middle school.

Rather than talk about space as you would expect at an observatory, we instead talked about pulleys, weight, momentum, friction, energy, gravity and the such. The kids had two hands-on projects which they loved. They had to build a pulley system and measure how much force they used to lift some metal rings for the first project. The second task was to build a roller coaster that would allow a marble to travel through a loop and make it to the end without falling off the track.

It was really funny to watch a group of six 3rd grade girls discuss how best to do the projects and observe what clever ideas they came up with. They successfully built one roller coaster with a loop. They decided to do a second one that pretty much went straight down a long shot with a corkscrew turn. Unfortunately, their pitch was too steep and the marble kept hurdling off the track. Eventually they put two halves of the track together to enclose the top and bottom so that there was a 'lid' on the track and the marble couldn't come out. Essentially if the coaster were real, the 'car' would come off the tracks, slam into the roof and break everybody's neck. But at least they'd all be securely strapped in our seats and the car would return to the starting point with all passengers in tow--even if they were all dead. And as third graders explained "marbles aren't people so technically it works".

2 of Your THINKS:

Anonymous said...

That is really cool, but way - way - way over my head.

- Debbie Stewart

meh said...

See - right there is why I don't like roller coasters - you are just way too funny Jen.

When I took my Elem. Ed. classes in college one of the things we learned is kids learn SO much more when they are able to do hands on stuff to learn it, really amazing how it all sticks in the brain when that is done.

Sounds like a fun field trip to go on, love the picture of the marble falling off the track.