Don't be surprised if your child's bedroom turns into a chain reaction science lab this summer. After learning about Rube Goldberg and how energy is stored and transferred, we set off on making our very own chain reaction machines. After doing some basic two-step chain reactions, students were set free to experiment and create the most elaborate multi-step chain reactions they could.
Fourth graders spent time in recent days trying to answer questions like how long does it take to hop on one foot from home plate to first base? Or how long does it take to type a sentence? Or how far can you broad jump? After students came up with these questions they determined the tools they would need to collect this information and figured out what units of measurement would make the most sense. Then they went out and collected the information from one another. But that wasn't all. They then did these same experiments with another class (mostly our first grade buddies) to have a second set of data to compare their original data to. After collecting all of their information, they organized their data into line plots and analyzed the results, looking for things like outliers, the mode, the range, and any concentrations in the data. All of this information allowed them to make basic conclusions such as "first graders were much slower at typing a sentence than fourth graders, most likely because fourth graders have so much more experience with computers." Please ask your child about their analysis of the data collection and what they learned from this experience.
As we continue our study of energy, we began learning about chain reactions. To get us started I shared this great video of a Rube Goldberg machine called "The Cake Server". Enjoy the video and try to make your own Rube Goldberg machine at home.