Featured Post

BBC Build a Catapult: the science and math behind the catapult

What it is: Any time students can dig in and discover learning for themselves, I consider it a success.  Recently I ran across the BBC’s DIY build a catapult.  The site lets students explore the history behind the catapult, learn how to build one step by step and then discover principles of velocity, acceleration, force, distance and math.  With the popularity of games like Angry Birds, I think a lesson in the science and math behind the catapult is in order.  I like the step-by-step nature of this site and the way that kids are guided through a series of directions. How to integrate BBC Build a Catapult into the classroom: Begin with a time of inquiry where students can inquire into how catapults work, what they can launch, what they have been used for in the past and the science and math behind the catapult.  This site will help answer a lot of their questions and even prompt some additional questions.  Students can follow the step-by-step directions for constructing their own catapult.  Give students the opportunity to test their catapults, using the science and math concepts behind the catapult to predict where object will land based on angles and mass.  The science section of the site does a fantastic job of illustrating vertical velocity, horizontal velocity, the circumference of a circle, acceleration, force and mass.  These can be hard to understand concepts on paper (or in textbooks) but when students can see the concept illustrated and apply it, they will begin to build a framework of understanding. After students understand the concepts of building a catapult, ask them to try building a catapult out of different types of supplies, do some energy sources work better than others?  Ask students to think about objects in our modern-day lives that use the principles or science used in a catapult. Students can access this site from classroom computers as a learning/building center or go through the steps as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard. I really appreciated the step-by-step directions for students to follow.  This is such a necessary life skill, and one that I don’t see practiced enough.  If students know how to read, understand and follow directions, the whole world opens for them and Google becomes useful! Tips: At the bottom of the site are printable versions of the directions for building a catapult. Please leave a comment and share how you are using  BBC DIY Catapult in your classroom!

Read More

Day of Play: Mechanical Bulls, Time Machines, Dancing and Mustaches

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 08-10-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

1

Maybe you have heard of Caine’s Arcade?  It is a little movement, started by an 8 year old.  This video will restore your faith in humanity and inspire you big time!  It inspired us at Anastasis Academy, so much so that when the second video came out, inviting us to a Day of Play, we were all in.

On Friday, Anastasis held our own Day of Play.  We collected boxes (lots and lots of boxes), tape, markers, pipe cleaners, glue, aluminum foil, rubber bands, tubes, scissors and paper.  Then, we let the kids at it.  There were no parameters, no specific rules or directions.  The goal for our students was to dream as big as they could. It is amazing what happens when you invite kids to dream and build apart from any rules or expectations of what the end goal is.  Our students (k-8) gathered in our big “all in” room and built to their hearts content.  The amazing part: no two ideas were the same.  We had plink-o, a fortune teller, a minecraft adventure, a time machine (complete with crystal), ski ball, tilt the ball, an old-school computer made of new parts, a hotdog/snow cone stand, dance dance revolution, ferris wheel, tanks, and a mechanical bull.  You read correctly, a mechanical bull.

The students spent about 3 hours dreaming and building.  Some had plans they created the day before, others came in with a blank slate.  After all of the building (and a break for lunch) we gathered to play each others games.  It was SO much fun!  Students even created their own prizes that could be won (mustaches and uni-brows anyone?).

The casual observer might have watched this all go down and seen chaos or a waste of time.  A closer look would have revealed the rich learning taking place.  The problem solving, critical thinking, discovery, planning, rich conversations, kids working together, designing, creativity.  Have you ever seen those words describe a worksheet? A lecture?  This was such a RICH learning experience in so many ways.  Best of all: it built and fostered a culture of working together, learning from each other and enjoying each other.  That is no small feat.

I saw genius today. I am SO proud of these kids, they truly are geniuses.  Two of our students (different classes and ages) built a tank together.  The tank shot rubber bands and launched a “cannon” water bottle.  These boys decided that the rubber band shooter and cannon should have a “safety” just in case something slipped so that they wouldn’t accidentally shoot anything.  The way they worked this out was truly brilliant.  The cannon water bottle was held in place by a popsicle stick safety.  The rubber band shooter was attached to pipe cleaner that kept the rubber band from releasing unless the safety was off.

Our youngest kids built and manned a hotdog/snow cone stand.  My favorite part of the stand was the signs that they created for it.  One of the signs read “Snow cones choose a color: limeade, raspberry, blueberry, grape.”  I love that it said choose a color, not choose a flavor.  SO stinking cute!

A dance-loving student created the cardboard version of dance, dance revolution.  She created a dance mat with different colors on it.  Then, she climbed behind her box and flashed construction paper colors. When the color showed up, the player had to step on the matching color on the mat.  Periodically, she would hold up signs that said things like, “you are on fire” or “fail”.  Brilliant!

Check out our Day of Play below:

Personalized learning should be available to EVERY child, every day. The Learning Genome Project makes that possible.  Please help me spread the word and contribute!

Comments (1)

[…] to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti tower challenge.  This year we have some fun […]

Write a comment

*