We began the session by thinking about how our paper airplanes flew the last day. We talked about what made them fly. We talked about weight and gravity and how it might affect us. We discussed the whole idea of walking in water like in the swimming pool where there is low or less gravity and how it is harder to keep our legs on the floor as they have a tendency to drift upwards. We decided to have a little walk around the classroom pretending that we were walking in water to see if we could exert a force on our arms and legs which would push them upwards every time we tried to walk normally.
Here are some of the activities that we worked through with Sharon during the session.
ACTIVITY 1: LETTING PAPER FALL (We could just investigate a little more about air friction / shape by trying this:)
YOU WILL NEED:
A4 piece of paper – the children could work in pairs (recycle pieces of paper already used)
Shall we see what happens when we drop two pieces of paper – one will be a flat piece of paper and the other should be a crumpled, screwed up piece of paper. Drop one and lets see what happens, then lets drop the other and observe – the children in pairs take it in turns to drop the paper to the ground, just letting it fall, maybe stand on a chair to do this from a height – please count or time how long it takes for each piece to land on the floor. The children can tell me what they observed. Did one fall quicker than the other? If so why might this be?
Each child was given 2 identical A4 sheets of paper. They were asked to crumple one into a ball and then we dropped both pages simultaneously and watched how the pages fell. The crumpled page hit the floor first. We observed how the flat page floated or drifted gently to the floor. We talked about how the shape of the page had an impact on gravity. The two pages were the same weight but one took up more space than the other. The flat page created a resistance towards the pull of gravity by its very shape. The air was slowing down its fall. This opened up an interesting discussion on forces and pushes and pulls.
AIR FRICTION – perhaps from here it could prompt our next discussion on WEIGHT and GRAVITY…
What is WEIGHT? and What is GRAVITY – lets have a list of words / sentences the children tell us from their own understanding – be interesting to hear what the children think about these words/ideas…
GRAVITY is the force that pulls us to the ground – thats what I understand
WEIGHT is the force of gravity on the object – so its a force… an ENERGY ? Can we see it?
ACTIVITY 2 – thinking back to our BALANCING ideas could we try BALANCING FORCES?
Working in pairs, the children could:
- take it in turns to stand steady on two feet and see if their friend can gently push them to UNBALANCE them
- try the same again only this time stand on one leg and see how long it takes to exert gentle FORCE to topple them
- lean into / against each other – exerting enough force each of them to stop the other pushing them over – keeping balance…
- Jack and Titas were willing to demonstrate for Sharon over the IWB and they were both very strong and equally balanced exerting the same amount of force against each other but Titas eventually proved to be the stronger.
ACTIVITY 3 – seeing weight/gravity
We tried dropping 2 different sorts of objects to the ground… a plastic ball and a wooden Jenga block ? what do we notice?
YOU WILL NEED:
2 very different objects in weight and density
Describe these objects
What happened and why?
Activity 4: Test what it feels like to hold a weight for a while (stop it falling to the ground) and then the feeling of weightlessness?
YOU WILL NEED:
some heavy objects for the children to hold –
we used dictionaries
Martin and Amy held a weighty object, say several books in one hand with arm outstretched for an extended period of time…
We discussed the responses from the children – is it difficult? how does the weight feel? why isn’t the object falling? what’s holding it up? why isn’t our hand falling? what do we need to do with our hand to stop the object falling?
The children kept their arms as straight as possible.
Who can keep holding the longest? but it needs to be long enough to really feel as if the weight is getting heavier as time goes on, because then we put the object down and feel the LIGHTNESS of our arms, as the heaviness is gone and it feels like no effort to hold our arm out
We can talk about the feeling of HEAVINESS / WEIGHT & LIGHTNESS / WEIGHTLESSNESS
What if there was no gravity? Is that what space is like? What do we know about space? how do we know it? from stories, news, from films?
We then returned to our desks after break and drew some pictures about what it might be like in space. We asked the children to imagine that they were taking off in a rocket and travelling into space.
This last drawing shows astronauts moving around in space where there is no gravity. It reflects the fun the children had as they pretended to float weightlessly around the classroom.