Upper El (Mr. D): Inertia, Promises, and Energy

This week we started with a recap on the force of gravity, learned some chess, explored promises in story writing, and entered into the topic of Energy.

It was important to begin on Tuesday with a recap of our exploration into the force of gravity. Some of these ideas are pretty complex.

We rewrote our rules of gravity, adding our newest discovered rule: all objects fall at the same rate if we ignore air resistance. Then, into the why of it all. Why do they fall at the same rate? Inertia is the name of the game, and we spent some time explaining this concept and Newton's First Law of Motion, or the Law of Inertia.

Then, we used a couple of chairs (one with a student) to show that to move two objects at the same rate, we have to pull harder on one and lighter on the other. This mimics what happens. The gravity of the Earth pulls harder on heavier objects, but those objects are also harder to move (more inertia), so they fall at the same rate as lighter objects.

Wednesday was a very fun day in the afternoon. First, students had Art with Ms. Maya, exploring different features of art like texture. Then, I read a very short story I wrote called "The Chicken Who Crossed the Road." We used the story to first show how we can take a silly and simple idea and turn it into an enjoyable story. Second, to explore the concept of promises. In the first paragraph, I set the story up and offer a promise to the reader: this chicken will cross the road! Don't ask why...

Then we had another visitor: Ms. Jessica. Ms. Jessica runs our chess club and came to do a little demonstration for our class and the other cohorts at the school.

Students were jumping up and down to answer her questions, and after she left to visit Middle School, students continued to play some games as well as spend time working on their stories.

Thursday, we began our exploration into the topic of Energy. Students shared their ideas on what they think Energy is and came up with their own definitions. After sharing a textbook definition, we had to explain what Work means as well! Again, some deep concepts, but this group is handling it super well.

From there, we had a "seek & find" mission. Their job was to roam the classroom or our porch and find something that was using or giving off Energy. Then, identify what evidence there is for thinking so, and finally, the original source of that Energy. So, I could say burning candle. My evidence is the light from the candle or the heat from the flame. The source of Energy is the wax.

Everyone did so well! It was awesome. From plants to TVs to birds, this group found so many examples we filled our whiteboard up. This chart showed us how Energy could be transformed from one kind to another; from electricity to cold air blowing, for example.

Our last point on Energy was to introduce Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy. What do they mean, and what different types of energy fit under those two categories? This activity outlined our year ahead. We have Gravitational, Elastic, and Chemical Energy under Potential Energy. That will take us through to the new year. Then, Radiant, Thermal, and Electrical Energy under Kinetic Energy will take us to the end of our school year.

Next week, we'll look at pendulums to better understand the transfer of Energy and the infamous energy stealer... friction!

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