Saturday, April 30, 2016

Building Paper Roller Coasters

As the culminating activity for our Force & Motion unit, we created paper roller coasters.  You can purchase the paper roller coaster kits by clicking here.  We began by making the framework, then added the roller coaster elements, testing them as we went.  Once the coasters were finished, students created names for their coasters and posters and descriptions of the ride the marble takes on their coaster.  Students each had a specific job.

As you can see from the photos, each design is unique.  The paper roller coaster kits allow for a lot of student choice in their roller coaster designs!

We did roller coaster labs with pipe insulation before trying the paper roller coasters.  In those labs, students worked on understanding each individual element (loops, curves, hills, corkscrews, tunnels, hills) and the effect each element had on their marble.  We created posters and students recorded their observations on post-it notes.

We also created vocabulary posters related to the science behind the challenges.  These posters have a definition written in the students' own words as well as a diagram to illustrate the word.

If you are interested in purchasing the roller coaster starter pack (with foam pipe insulation), click here.

Make Your Own Butterfly Hatcheries

Even though I teach intermediate students, they are still fascinated by seeing any animal go through its life cycle.  We have painted lady caterpillars in our classroom right now.  They came to us as tiny larvae (caterpillars) and they have now each formed a chrysalis.  I decided to have each student create their very own place for the chrysalis to hatch.  It was actually really easy!

Materials (for each student):

4 empty milk cartons (we collected them in the lunchroom)
masking tape
a piece of felt
a piece of tulle
4 craft sticks
2 bamboo skewers
paper clips

This is what they finished hatcheries look like...

The chrysalis is secured to the bamboo skewers (which are located in the middle).  The four craft sticks are placed on the corners and then the tulle is wrapped around it and tied at the top with yarn.  Paper clips are used to secure the tulle to the craft sticks if there are any holes/gaps.

Here is a close up view of the finished hatchery.  A sponge of sugar water in a petri dish can be added once the butterflies have hatched.  The butterflies may even lay eggs on the tulle and you can start the process over again!

UPDATE!  They hatched!  The kids were SO excited!

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