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Upper El (Mr. D): Elastic or Plastic? And Much More!

It's good to be back after our break, and we had a great week in UE. We've continued our new unit on Elastic Energy, which we began the week before break, had a unique look inside a Veterinarian Hospital and made progress on our Science Fair.

Elastic or Plastic?

Our newest unit is on Elastic Energy. Before the break, we explored what it means for an object to be elastic or to have elasticity. We read about the difference between elastic and plastic deformation and how objects exist on a spectrum of elasticity.

Then, it was time to explore. I placed several materials around the classroom, and students used what they knew to test and compare the objects to each other. Then, they put them on a spectrum. The rock was definitely the least elastic, but which is the most? We shared our results as a class.

Also, as a part of this lesson, students contemplated a few other questions about elasticity. What is the essential factor that determines its elasticity? The material! What other factors might have an effect? We spoke about temperature and even shape. I showed how we could take a pipe cleaner, which isn't very elastic, and twist it into a spiral (or a spring). Now, it bounces back much better.

This week, we went deep into the energy side of things. Using a bouncing ball as an example, we can also bring in our knowledge from the last unit on gravitational energy. After an initial discussion on Monday, we went deeper into things on Thursday. Students were given a diagram with seven steps along a ball's journey from starting up high to bouncing back up again.

Accompanying the diagram were seven corresponding descriptions of each moment in time. What is happening with the energy at each stage? Converting from Potential to Kinetic, to Elastic, and so on. Also, where we lose energy along the journey.

We will finish putting those together this coming week, and then students will create their own infographic to explain the seven steps in a creative way.

Field Trip!

On Tuesday, we were invited to visit Whole Pet Veterinarian Hospital in Davidson by the owner and vet, one of our own, Nicole Sheehan. We had a great visit and learned a lot from the business side to the many people involved in helping keep the Hospital running to the vet side.

We watched and joined in while Nicole walked us through a check-up on her two dogs. Students, and I, were able to listen with the stethoscope to hear the heartbeats, see the charts from blood work, look into microscopes to see bacteria, and hear how all the information comes together to determine whether the patient is healthy or requires extra care. Oh, and we also saw some X-rays!

This was part of our open invitation to parents (or relatives) in UE to share your passions, skills, hobbies, knowledge, etc., with the class. If any other parents are interested, please let us know. The students had a great time.

Science Fair and Writing:

Everyone is making great progress with our Science Fair. We have all selected a question we'd like to answer and created a background research plan. The first step for many here was to determine if or how they could even perform their experiments. But, now we are moving forward to begin our research and get our procedures and materials list together.

With our stories, we spent some time on Wednesday looking at an example writing rubric so students could see how their writing can progress within several different categories. This way, students can self-assess their work and each other's work when appropriate. Also, it gives us something to shoot for as we continue to improve from one level to the next.

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