For 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at The Y.A.L.E. School’s Mansfield campus, science was brought to life as students were given hands-on physics challenges. The young scientists were actively involved in the scientific method as they constructed devices, formed hypotheses and executed the activity to reach a factual conclusion. Each grade was given very specific materials to create a structure, which then was tested for effectiveness.
Sixth graders were given two and a half weeks to design a raft using 50 plastic straws, Popsicle sticks and tape or glue of their choice. As a means of investigating buoyancy and water displacement, the mission was for the raft to hold as many uniform balls of clay as possible before sinking. Our 7th graders were challenged to construct the sturdiest bridge possible using 100 popsicle sticks, wood glue and their knowledge of load-bearing geometrical shapes. The soundness of the bridge designs was tested by placing increasingly heavier weights on the bridges until they collapsed. The 8th graders were asked to use the concepts of momentum, force and velocity, combined with their creativity to design a structure that would safely cushion a raw egg in its delicate shell. Sounds easy enough until you add a zip line that sends the egg in its “nest” straight into a wall!
As part of a spirited afternoon of experimentation, the sinking, crashing and cracking were taped, photographed and documented on iPads and computers for continued use by the young scientists. Students then developed PowerPoint presentations to show the class detailing their task, materials, concepts used to help decide on their design, methodology in the building process, and the ultimate performance of their craft or contraption. It was an energetic, thorough and effective way to bring science to life in the classroom!