Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Investigation on Balance

As you know, we are studying balance and motion in our science unit at school. This week we did an investigation on balance using "trick crayfish".  This was an investigation from a Foss Science Kit that I mentioned earlier in the week.

Something I really like about the Foss Kits is that the investigations are designed to let the kids explore and come to conclusions on their own.  Rather than telling them how to balance the crayfish, I simply gave them some background information and then encouraged them to start exploring. It didn't take long before the kids were balancing the crayfish all on their own! It was pretty cool to see their faces lighting up as they realized they had found the balancing point all on their own.

The hardest part was that the kids could only balance the crayfish using one finger and many of them tried to hold it with their hands. But eventually everyone got the hang of it.

Before beginning the experiment, I took the kids through the Scientific Method so they could experience thinking about a problem like a real scientist. Our question was "How can we get the crayfish to balance?" For the hypothesis, we listed the various ways we thought we would be able to balance it (on the top, on its side, etc).

After the kids had learned about finding the balancing point and we had talked about whether something is stable or unstable, I encouraged them to try to find other ways to balance the crayfish. After a few minutes, the kids realized that it wasn't working! This is when I introduced the clothespins. I encouraged the kids to try using the clothespins in various ways to help balance the crayfish.

It was amazing to watch them work, as I did not have to show them where to put the clothespins. Eventually they figured it out through trial and error! After we figured out that clothespins could help the crayfish balance in other ways, I introduced them to the term counterweight. 

After the kids had plenty of time to explore using the counterweights, we came back together as a group to record the results and our findings from the experiment.  We also added our new words to our science word bank: balancing point, stable, unstable, counterweight
This week we will be doing another investigation on balance...I can't wait to see what the kinders discover next!

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