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Upper El (10/5-9): Elastic Energy

This week in Upper El, we started our new unit on Elastic Energy!

To start things off, we had to define what elasticity means. Each table received an assortment of materials and, without a definition, put the items in order from most elastic to least elastic. Then, students tried to define what elasticity meant from how they ordered their items. Finally, we learned the "textbook definition."

Then it was off to search for all the elastic items we could find—parts of a shoe, facemask lanyards, our classroom tarp, and so on.

The next day we jumped into the energy side of things. Each student started with a little thought experiment. Imagine you throw a kickball at the ground. They then drew a series of images like snapshots of what they think that ball would look like from when it hits the ground to when it bounces back up.

To discover what it actually looks like, we had a lot of laughs while we made slow-motion videos on my phone at the playground. Each student had a chance to throw the kickball at the ground while I did my best to time everything! We had at least five great videos and some funny ones that we all enjoyed watching back at the classroom.

I also showed them a more professional video of a tennis ball hitting the ground in slow motion and even a golf ball hitting a piece of steal in slow motion. It was amazing to watch even the golf ball deform and wobble like it was Jell-O.

To complete our lessons for the week, we discussed those slow-motion snapshots. We discussed how the kinetic energy gets stored in the stretching rubber of the ball. Then, how the stored energy gets converted back to kinetic energy to send our ball back to the sky!

We're off to an awesome start with elastic energy, and I'm excited for next week as we'll get into some building and some more experiments!

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