Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Science at CCS in January

8th Grade Science - January 2014
Science students in 8th grade finished up an engineering unit on bridge building after the holiday break.  Over the course of three weeks, students learned about different styles of bridges, designed a bridge with a team of classmates, and built the bridge.  

 Each team was given a one million dollar budget, but they quickly learned that purchasing land, insurance, and making payroll cuts into the budget of any business.  They also had to "purchase" their materials, pay the building inspector to approve their plans, and pay an "auditor" to look over their accounts.
Each member of the team had a role to play: Project Manager, Builder, Accountant or Transport Chief.  In their roles, they each had specific jobs to do, but they also had to work as a team to get the bridge built on schedule.
 Bridges were judged on three aspects: Strength, Cost and Aesthetics
Most important (60%) was the strength and safety of the bridge.
Second (30%) was the cost of the bridge (how much under budget)
Finally 10% was based on the simple beauty of the structure, or the aesthetics of the bridge, as judged by a panel of three CCS staff members.
 When all the bridges were complete, we hung weights from the middle of each bridge to test the strength.  The challenge was to hold up 6 kg.  All 4 bridges were able to hold that much.  Students had fun hanging a 10kg (22lb) box of nails off of the bridges too.  Three of the four were able to hold it.
We discussed the concepts of tension and compression stress, and the importance of using triangles and arches in building structures, as they are the strongest shapes (least likely to collapse)  All in all, students had a wonderful time, and learned a great deal about, not only bridge building, but also teamwork, perseverance.

6th and 7th Grade Science - January 2014

Since mid-November, we have been studying water pollution and how it affects the Long Island Sound watershed and Cornwall's streams, lakes and rivers.  A large part of the students' work was to research a particular form of pollution that sometimes occurs right here in Cornwall.  Students worked in teams of 2 or 3 to read selected websites, watch some educational videos, and ask questions of parents, friends and community members.

 Once their research was complete, students needed to express what they had learned in a concise, clear informative writing style. They worked on revising and editing their work for several weeks to make it easy to read and understand.  They practiced writing in heading/bullet style.  Some needed to add more specific information.  Some needed to work on their writing to make it more concise, as it was too long and wordy.  All students worked on clarifying the central ideas.

Finally, they printed out the text they had written, and some pictures they had found or taken themselves.  Then they worked on cutting them out neatly.  We talked about white space around text, being consistent in font size and style, having a large enough font size and choosing colors that are easy to read.  They needed to arrange the headings and bullet statements in an order that made sense, and place pictures next to the text they illustrate.  The result of all this work was a display board for presentation.

Then students started practicing their presentations.  They needed to learn some information that their partner had researched, and practice talking about their topic for an adult audience.  They practiced eye contact, smooth speaking, and tried to take the "ums" and awkward pauses out of their presentations.  On the evening of January 14th the CCS Gathering Room was full of students, displays, parents and community members.  Students talked to many adults about their pollution topics.  The experience of speaking publicly is nerve-wracking to many students but valuable to all of them.           They did a wonderful job presenting. Many community members told me they had learned a lot from the students, and were impressed by their presentation style as well as the content.  BRAVO to all of the 6th and 7th graders!

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