Creative Science - Magnets, Springs, Pulleys, Light, Rockets


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  • School has all the parts still assembled – up to you to dismantle or reuse as you see fit. Base is 12mm MDF from Homebase. Supporting post is 100mm fencepost from challenge fencing. Screws and washers for base/post were from local hardware shop. Big tube is thick carpet tube scrounged from Milners in Ashtead. Light is B&Q LED battery light with 3xAAA batteries. Balcony was cut from plywood by a friend of mine – I’d quite like it back and I think you would be better letting the children make a balcony from thick card. Everything else is general scrap paper/tape/card just slapped on to a decent thickness by the children. Light is put into 2l coke bottle (put several down the hole until get the right height Used about half a tub of papier mache glue to make the 2 lighthouses – each took half a day to make and an hour or so to paint the next day when dry. Safety Mat can get slippery with glue Take care if you cut the coke bottle, especially sharp edges
  • Used school own magnets plus bought some additional strong ferrite magnets. Picked up Meccano and weighed it to find strongest – majority of meccano belongs to Mr Egles so borrow from him or buy a load of cheap steel nails or similar. Paper clips are too light – best to have heavier things to lift. Lifts up to just over 1kg so need quite a few weights: 1 x 1kg plus 2 or 3 x 500g Plenty of 100g, 20g and 10g Definitely need a set of scales per table. Electromagnets: Nails (steel) for the cores are in the bag Long lengths of wire (4 metres) are already fitted with crocodile clips and in the bag, wind around nails to make magnets (will only lift about 20-70g) 2 x AA batteries in PP3 clip are good, bared wires for attaching crocodile clips Cut the bare wires on the PP3 clip to different lengths to minimise the likelihood of short circuiting Safety If ferrite magnets break, edges can be sharp Don’t drop 1kg weights from height Don’t let the batteries short circuit or they can get hot
  • Reed switch circuits are in the bag (apart from those still assembled). Used 10 per class so they worked in 3s. Connections (forks, male, female) came from Rapid – there are spares in the plastic tub but most of the small ones have been used so might need some more Tiny tubes (ferrules) are in a film canister and are used to crimp on to end of reed switches to connect to wires (using pliers) – needs doing by adult before the lesson – quite fiddly so allow time to prep. PP3 clip for batteries also has connectors pre-crimped on and at different lengths to minimise chance of short circuit. Reed switches came from one of the school catalogues – plenty of spares in the bag – they seem very reliable and we only broke 1. School has plenty of bulb holders but likely to need more bulbs – the old ones were very unreliable so I suspect they were not 3.5v bulbs like it said on the bag – we bought more 2.5v bulbs and they were fine – likely to need more. Have given you some old Jenga blocks in the bag to hide with the real magnets. Played “hide the magnet” under the blue cloth – hid some school red&blue bar magnets with some Jenga so they couldn’t feel the difference. Safety - Just avoid short circuits making batteries hot
  • School has bags of small springs but large ones belong to Mr Egles so borrow from him – could still do with even more! Encourage the children to make additional “springs” by cutting rings of drinks bottles and lengths of card etc. Egg drop from on/near balcony – use plumb line to be accurate – good group feedback likely Safety Care cutting up bottles Clean up raw egg Springs are not especially sharp but do have pointed ends sometimes so take care
  • Rent K’nex from Satro for £50 for a couple of days. String for “rope” Jenga blocks for sandwich lunch (or could make real packed lunch in foil)
  • Lighthouses are still assembled so will need to dismantle to reuse – some spare bulbs, holders, wire, clips etc are in box. Coloured acetate A4 sheets were cut up for the light filters – came from school catalogue. Big card tubes for hiding them in the dark are cut up thin carpet tube scrounged from Milners in Ashtead. Screwdriver set is in Ali’s class. Need pringles tube between 2 or 3 – pre drilled with 2 holes in side for brass split pins (about a paperclip length apart) and 2 holes on the metal end for the lightbulb. Safety Avoid short circuits Drill not “stab” the holes in the metal end or the inside will be sharp
  • Same carpet tubes lined with school black paper and torches for lightbox – cut slits in cereal card for the end. Prisms and lenses (flat sided) plus rectangular prisms are in science cupboard – ideally need a couple more sets – came from school catalogue. Safety - Some prisms have hard corners so be careful not to stab in the eye if you look through it
  • Satro run water rockets and can rent ordinary launchers from them for £50. Much better to ask for Stan Stephens and his launcher (NPL champion in 2006 and 2010). Need 2 2litre carbonated drinks bottles per rocket. Cereal card, A4 card, 40-50g clay/plasticene and sellotape. Goof to have some balloons and hand/stomp rockets for the talk. Good to have stopwatches and a wheel for measuring distance. Bottle about 25% full of water then pumped to 60-80 psi with air to launch. Takes virtually a full day. Safety: Stand behind Wear safety glasses if near (e.g. doing the pumping) Plenty of distance for launch (can go 200m) NEVER use very old bottles, especially if been out in the sun as they can go brittle NEVER use still drinks bottles, they are not rated for pressure. Sparkling bottles are rated to around 200 psi so have a big safety margin. Could consider earplugs too but not really necessary
  • Telescope kits belong to Mr Egles so borrow from him. Start with just large objective lens, tubes, transparent “screen” paper over end to find focus (near light on lighthouse, distant trees outside). Add small eyepiece lens and use to focus on near and far objects, notice image is upside down, try to read a book from across the classroom. Safety: NEVER look at sun
  • Creative Science - Magnets, Springs, Pulleys, Light, Rockets

    1. 1. Forces and Light Enquiry School Project How can we improve our science/technology teaching to make it more child-centred, creative, imaginative and less teacher directed Brian Egles March 2011 [email_address] 07785 527324
    2. 2. Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch
    3. 3. Initial preparation Make a large lighthouse
    4. 4. Magnets <ul><li>Find the strongest magnet: </li></ul><ul><li>Weigh what they can lift (meccano) </li></ul><ul><li>Use scales and 10g – 1kg weights </li></ul><ul><li>Make electromagnets (in 3s): </li></ul><ul><li>What makes them stronger? </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the ones they made </li></ul>
    5. 5. Magnets - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Concept of strength (not size) of magnet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electromagnet building in 3s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scales with weights in 10g increments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interest levels high </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough scales to start with (need 1 per table) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ferrite magnets are strongest but brittle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need more metal to lift as team sharing hard </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Finding magnets Reed switch circuit Ready to assemble Assembled and tested Make a boat Fit the circuit Find “underwater” magnets And plot them on a chart
    7. 7. Finding magnets - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Idea of reed switches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ready-to-assemble circuits with connectors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hiding magnets and Jenga to avoid feeling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A chart is not a picture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate group finding magnets worked best </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others then needed occupying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bulbs blowing (~30% but old) </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Springs Build Mr Grinling’s Springy Safety System Any design you like Each team shows and tests Not all successful
    9. 9. Springs - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Very open ended task </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of things are springy (cut bottles, flat) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Huge enthusiasm for the real egg drop test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great “2 stars and a wish” feedback in groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good range of results (broken, cracked, intact) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One group needed 20 minutes “sharing help” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More larger springs would be good </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be very clear what is not allowed (cotton wool?) </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Pulleys (Knex) Build a pulley system to get Mr Grinling’s lunch across the gap between 2 tables (teams of 5)
    11. 11. Pulleys - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Knex experts helped the novices well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perseverance when not as easy as it seemed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enough to do (pulleys, baskets, structures) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-prepared “fair bags” of Knex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Jenga blocks as the sandwiches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hoped to use big lighthouse but tables safer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teams wanted to steal larger pieces from others </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Lighthouse making Give teams of 2-3 the parts to make a “Pringles tube” lighthouse with a switch. Let them choose coloured acetate to make theirs different in the dark Can you identify yours?
    13. 13. Lighthouse making - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-prepared kit of parts, drilled Pringles tubes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good “why is mine not working” problem solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of achievement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The “find my lighthouse” game they(?) invented </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Several found wiring fiddly and needed adult help </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would making the circuit “flat” first help? </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Prisms and reflections Line a tube with black paper and cut slits in some card. Make a lightbox by shining a torch through the slits. Draw the light rays as they reflect off mirrors and refract through various prisms/lenses
    15. 15. Prisms & reflections - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some groups did very well, good drawings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good introduction to reflection/refraction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much messing about with lenses/prisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some groups drew very little </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More prisms would be good but are expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Round lenses/mirrors unsuitable – need flat base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to get room dark enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Probably better as a small group activity </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Water rockets 2 x 2l carbonated drink bottles Cereal card for fins A4 thin card and clay for nose
    17. 17. Water rockets - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Very exciting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaches that careful build = good result </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should stress importance of even spacing on fins </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not really practical to run without Satro support </li></ul>
    18. 18. Telescopes Use kits to test objective lens onto a paper screen held over end. Then add eyepiece for real thing. Look at near + far for focus and read upside down
    19. 19. Telescopes - notes <ul><li>What went well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telescopes work pretty well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of transparent screen first is good </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What needed changing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only a short activity (1 hour), do not spin it out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to hold steady to read, put elbows on desk </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Overall thoughts … <ul><li>Children loved it </li></ul><ul><li>Some learning is very high level </li></ul><ul><li>Interested to know the effect it has afterwards </li></ul><ul><li>Theme is good but requires “forced fit” </li></ul><ul><li>Creative partnerships process is rather drawn out and “project timescale” feels constraining </li></ul><ul><li>Teamworking skills are growing </li></ul>
    21. 21. Pupils “What is a scientist” <ul><li>Clever </li></ul><ul><li>Invents things </li></ul><ul><li>Creative </li></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Experiments </li></ul><ul><li>New thing every day </li></ul><ul><li>Things happen </li></ul><ul><li>Funny </li></ul><ul><li>Silly </li></ul><ul><li>Makes potions </li></ul><ul><li>Happy </li></ul><ul><li>Serious </li></ul><ul><li>Discovers things </li></ul><ul><li>Strange </li></ul><ul><li>Bonkers </li></ul><ul><li>Crazy </li></ul><ul><li>Expert </li></ul><ul><li>Thinks of loads of things </li></ul><ul><li>Kind </li></ul><ul><li>Helps people </li></ul><ul><li>Brave </li></ul><ul><li>Cheerful </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent </li></ul><ul><li>Weird </li></ul>
    22. 22. “ What I think of science now” <ul><li>You need skill </li></ul><ul><li>Fantastic </li></ul><ul><li>Wonderful </li></ul><ul><li>Super </li></ul><ul><li>Wow </li></ul><ul><li>Wikid </li></ul><ul><li>Despicably awesome </li></ul><ul><li>Unbelievable </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t have to write about it </li></ul><ul><li>Interesting </li></ul><ul><li>Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Cool </li></ul><ul><li>Utterly awesome </li></ul><ul><li>Beautiful </li></ul><ul><li>Exciting </li></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Terrific </li></ul><ul><li>Brilliant </li></ul><ul><li>Fabulous </li></ul><ul><li>Inventive </li></ul><ul><li>I like to learn whilst making </li></ul><ul><li>One of my favourite things </li></ul><ul><li>Tempting to do it again </li></ul>
    23. 23. Pupil Feedback <ul><li>Most popular and why </li></ul><ul><li>Water rockets (exciting, team names, outside) </li></ul><ul><li>Small lighthouse making </li></ul><ul><li>Least popular and why </li></ul><ul><li>Knex pulleys (team disagreements) </li></ul><ul><li>Telescopes (not enough to do) </li></ul><ul><li>Magnets (not exciting enough) </li></ul><ul><li>Preference for smaller groups (2s, 3s). </li></ul><ul><li>Like to decorate everything (especially the girls) </li></ul>