Archive for Science

Measurement 7: Discovering Capacity

Remember way back when I collected containers to teach capacity? Well I ended up with a GIGANTIC garbage bag full of milk cartons, shampoo bottles, juice containers, and water bottles and we finally used them.ย  I wish I would have taken a picture of all the containers arranged on my table, categorizedย  into baskets, you would have been impressed ๐Ÿ™‚ I divided my kiddos into groups of 3-4 and gave them a pep talk about this being a DISCOVERY and that they would need to stretch their minds and work together. Whew, they have a tough time with this concept, but in the end they did a great job with this discovery.

First things first, here is the page from the measurement packet:

Discovering Capacity

Here is the activity:

1. Every group started out with a gallon of water, a dishpan to help with the mess factor, and a funnel (they have them 3/$1 at Dollar Tree right now!)

2. Their task was to try to figure out how many ounces, cups, pints, quarts and half gallons are in a gallon…and then to figure out everything in between. How did they do this? They picked containers from the baskets and tried to figure it out!

3. When they figured out one, they traded in their container and tried to figure out another one.

Turkey baster=1 ounce!

Everyone in the group was important for this activity...and do you see her holding up her fingers to count? There were many do-overs because they fogot to count ๐Ÿ™‚

This was a fantastic activity for critical thinking…my heart warmed when one of my girls ran up to me and said, “Miss, we figured out how many cups is in a quart, so we can just multiply now, huh?” Woohoo!! Did they get all the answers perfectly? No. But did they have a better understanding of capacity and the relationship between units? YES, YES, YES!!

Ps. If you are tired of measurement…an end is in sight because it is SPRING BREAK next week! Who knows what I will find to blog about when I don’t have my little darlings all day long ๐Ÿ™‚

**Check out the other measurement activities here

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Measurement 6: Perimeter and Area

We already learned the formulas and math of perimeter and area in math, so for perimeter and area in science, I wanted it to be all hands-on. Here is the page in our Measurement Packet:

Perimeter and Area

There is nothing super special about this activity, except it takes perimeter and area off the paper and lets the kids experience it for themselves.

The really fun activity we did with perimeter and area was Perimeter and Area with Google Earth! If you don’t have Google Earth on your computers you can download it free here. If you haven’t used Google Earth with your kids before, then you will want to give your students some time to just play with it the first time, it is so fun! Since we have already used Google Earth, we jumped right into using the Ruler tool to find the Perimeter and Area of very large things!

Google Earth-perimeter and area

The activity starts out with typing in the address of your school and measuring the length and width using the ruler tool on Google Earth:

Google Earth

Google Earth: Ruler

The kids loved that they could switch between units and figure out how many centimeters or miles our building is!

Next, we flew to the Pentagon:

Google Earth: Pentagon

We used the “Path” tool to find the perimeter of the Pentagon. Since we are not quite ready to find the area of a pentagon, we just found the perimeter of this one, but if you have older students you could definitely have them find the area too!

Google Earth: Lake Superior

We also used the path tool to find the perimeter of a very large, irregular shaped location: Lake Superior. Some kids were extremely particular using 20 or more points to make a perfect perimeter, others were more like me… (By the way, Lake Superior is about 63 million inches around!)

The rest of the activity has the kids measure the perimeter of the United States, Colorado, and a state of their choice. This turned out to be a very successful activity, and the kids had to have a very solid understanding of perimeter and area to complete each task.

**Find all my Measurement Packet Activities here.

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Measurement 5: Long and Short of Length

I thought that doing the unit on length would be the easiest one, using a ruler should be pretty easy, right? WRONG! When my kids had to measure something that was longer than the ruler or meter stick this is what they did:

Ummm, that’s not effective! Especially when you have to measure something longer, like a hallway:

They didn’t know what to do if they object they were measuring was longer than the measurement tool. This was one of those sub-lessons that I never intended on teaching!

But enough of that! Here are the pages we used for our length labs:

Length LabLong and Short of Length

These are super basic, but they worked really well. I had the kids work in pairs or groups of three to do the measurements. It was a little bit chaotic as kids were all over the room and out in the hallway measuring everything in sight, but they learned a lot and I could see their little brains working as they tried to figure out how tall a stack of 1000 pennies would be…”Miss, we need 1000 pennies and there are only 16 here!”

Me: “You already know the height of 10 pennies, so how can you find the height of 1000 pennies?”

Watch their wheels turn ๐Ÿ™‚

**Find all my measurement activities and resources here!

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Measurement 4: Air and Water Temperature

A few weeks ago I shared about an Alexander Day I had where everything seemed to go wrong…especially a particular science activity. Even though this activity was generally a flop, it was not because it’s not a good activity! It was a flop because I didn’t think through one important detail: styrofoam cups + pointed temperature sensors = big mess! I found this fun activity online here, and I adapted it for my measurement packet:

Air and Water Temperature

Other materials:

  • temperature sensors–meat thermometers work great. I bought a set on amazon, unfortunately they are no longer available. I bet you could just ask your friends and family to borrow theirs ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Plastic Cups–Again, do NOT use Styrofoam cups for this activity! You will have a very soggy mess.
  • Warm and Cold Water

Here’s what we did:

1. Give the kids a cup of hot water and cold water. (remember plastic cups!!)

2. Their task is to mix the hot and cold water until it feels the same as room temperature.

3. After they think they have gotten their water to room temperature, they will use temperature sensors to measure the temperature of the water and air and note the difference. Teacher Tip: In general if the room is cool, their water will be cooler than the air, if the room is warm the water will be warmer than the air.

4. Now they will do the same activity using the temperature sensor to get the water temp to match the air temp.

5. After they have gotten the water to within 1 degree of room temperature, they will feel the water and note whether it feels warmer, colder or the same as the room temperature.

6. When everyone has finished, discuss why it is important that scientists use measurement tools and not just their senses to take measurements.

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Measurement 3: Temperatures Around the World

Since we are looking at measurement in relation to science and social studies, I also incorporated an activity dealing with temperatures around the world. Kids in the upper elementary grades are usually just starting to realize there is a world outside of themselves and they are very interested in learning about other places. When I researched websites for this activity I found the greatest resource: WunderMap. This map tool is so cool! It gives you current temperatures around the world. I used this Weblist to do both of these activities and I also have a video of how to use Wundermaps. Here are the two activities we did with it:

1. Temperatures Around the World.

I listed locations around the world and had the kids predict if they would be hotter or colder than the temperature here. They also had to list a reason for why they thought it would be hotter or colder. Some of their reasons were a little weak, such as “Hotter because China is hotter”, but even I had a hard time explaining my reasoning for my hypothesis!

World Temperatures

2. What affects temperature.

The next temperature activity we did was an exploration of what affects world temperatures. For this activity I went over the key vocabulary: equator, coast, and elevation, then I let the kids explore the map again. They had a much more difficult time with this because I didn’t tell them the answer. Do you have this problem with your students? They always want you to tell them the right answer? We are working on “using our brains” to figure things out. It’s a tough lesson–to teach and learn! So anyway, this activity was more frustrating, and when I do it in the future I will preface it more clearly that this is a discovery, they might not discover the right answer, and that’s ok! The next day I went back to the maps and taught a lesson about the equator, coast and elevation. In the end they really “got it” and loved using Wundermaps.

What Affects Temperature

Side note: When we talked about elevation I showed my kids pictures from when I hiked a mountain with my family this summer. I showed them how we had on short sleeves at the bottom, and by the time we got to the top there was snow! They loved this personal connection and if they forget what elevation is, I just say, “Remember when I hiked the mountain…”

ALSO, in our Storyworks magazine this week there was a story about Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and they made the connection to elevation again…so many connections! My kids LOVED this story and there are lots of inspirational videos on YouTube about this amazing kid!

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Measurement 2: Temperature

Temperature is a pretty basic form of measurement, we hear about it on a daily basis on the news and weather is a pretty normal subject of conversation. So you would think that kids would have no trouble “getting it”. But there are tricky parts of measuring temperature. For example reading what I’ll call a “red line” thermometer (because I can’t find out what it is actually called) can be really tricky for 4th graders! Also, increasing and decreasing temperatures especially when you are dealing with negative temperatures is very confusing!

When I was at The Dollar Tree a few weeks ago they had garden thermometers,ย  so I bought one to put outside our building. Now the kids read the thermometer every time they come in the door. “Miss, it’s ___ degrees outside!” is blurted multiple times per day…but they have become very proficient at reading that pesky red line!

So one of the first pages in our Measurement Packet is our Temperature Log:

Temperature Log

We also have been graphing the AM and PM temperatures and seeing the differences:

temp graph

So that is our introduction to temperature! Up next? Temperatures Around the World!

**Ps: The whole Measurement Packet will be posted after I finish the unit…I keep tweaking it as I do activities!

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Measurement: Introduction

So this begins a series of posts about MEASUREMENT….begin!

We remember the types of measurement with this simple mnemonic device: TLVCDT…yeah, NO! There is no simple way to learn and remember the types of measurement: Temperature, length, volume, capacity, density and time–oh, my!

According to our state testing, measurement is one of the lowest scoring objectives. Why is it that kids have such a difficult time understanding measurement? Maybe it’s because we have to teach them TWO different systems, why can’t we just pick customary or metric?! But no, somehow we have to get them to understand that inches and centimeters, grams and ounces. It is like comparing apples and oranges–both fruit, but totally different. (No, no, you can’t report length as 6 inches and 1 centimeter!) And don’t even get me started on capacity!

In light of that, I decided to create a science unit dedicated to measurement. That way I give them a double dose: converting measurement in math, and hands-on measurement in science– bam, they won’t even know what hit ’em! So here we go! Over the next several days I’ll post about my Measurement Packet and all the measurement activities, stay tuned!

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