Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hold the Plane-A Science Blog Entry

Yes I know you are probably saying what a science entry? Science is not my favorite subject of the day but the best part of science is opening our wall and team teaching with my best friend, Sarah. Together we team teach Science and Social Studies every afternoon. 

We decided to start science different this year-we flew right into a science having the students design paper airplanes. Typically we discuss science tools, the scientific method, and typically "hand feed" the first experiment but not this year. We decided to allow the students time to explore, challenge their thinking to push to a higher level and more importantly setting the stage for future conversations. 

The goals were to fly the plane the longest and farthest.  We let the students choose their groups, gave them one sheet of paper, a stopwatch, and a tape measure. That was it and it was only the third day of school. We observed the groups and noticed some groups rushed into the experiment and wanted a new piece of paper quickly, other groups using their background knowledge designed their airplane, and even some groups drew their plane out and thought about how to accomplish the two goals. 

Finally they flew their planes, and that is where the learning curve hit the peak. Students forgot to time the planes, forgot to mark where they flew the plane from, they forgot to record their data from the 3 different test flights. So we reconvened had a HUGE conversation about those areas as well as the scientific term: variables. Also we had students share their longest flights times and why they thought their flight was successful.  Again students learning from students =the best learning!

Finally we allowed the students to redesign their plane and had the students complete the experiment again-all of a sudden the students understood all parts of the experiment! They did a wonderful job and most importantly they learned how to think like scientists. Next week, we are moving on to Lifeboats.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience for the kids! I have been using Design Squad from PBS and the design process. We started the year with a Paper Table Challenge. Eight sheets of newspaper, masking tape, and a piece of cardboard...challenge...make a table that is eight inches high and can hold a book. Our record...32 books!!!

  2. I'm glad we allowed them to explore and design. I think it set a good foundation for inquiry throughout the year. Let’s keep that up even with the other “demands”. So thankful for teaming with you!