Friday, March 15, 2019

Students experience potential and kinetic energy through sledding

Owen Gaulrapp 
By Lorraine Glowczak

The snow-covered hill near the football field and Windham Primary School was packed with eighth grade and second grade students having fun sledding on Friday afternoon, March 8. No, it was not recess. They were studying chemistry.

Windham Middle School’s eight grade team of Ohana Explorers led by teachers, Pamela Mallard, Lisa Hodge, Erika DuPont and Tricia Sabine, were given an unusual homework assignment – to build a sled from materials at home. They were given four weeks to make their creations, factoring in the concepts of potential and kinetic energy. Specifically, they were assigned to, “develop a model to describe objects interacting at a distance and the different amounts of potential energy that are stored,” Mallard said. This was the curriculum standard to which was learned and developed.

Briefly, chemists divide energy into two classes. potential energy is where the energy is stored while kinetic energy is the energy found in a moving object. The faster the object can travel, the more kinetic energy it has. “Students needed to be able to describe what the potential energy of the sled was and where it converted to kinetic,” explained Mallard. “The student also needed to identify the role of friction in stopping their sled.”

https://www.egcu.orgStudents were asked to determine the relationship between the amount of energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass and the change in kinetic energy. They also explored how adding a person to the sled, which increased the mass, would change the amount of acceleration of the object.

“Students did an on-line program through Gizmo (an interactive learning site) called Sled Wars,” explained Mallard. “This gave them information to ponder while constructing their sleds. Sleds were built at home and the students could have the help of a parent. I encouraged the home connection
among family members.”

If a student didn’t have materials of their own, Mallard offered materials from the school and they could stay to work on them after class.

The second-grade students who participated in this middle school science project are part of a mentorship program. “We have been mentoring Mrs. Brianna Butts second graders once a month since the beginning of the year,” stated Mallard. “This allows the eighth-grade students to take on a leadership role and make connection with their younger friends. It is something we will continue to do for the remainder of the year.” student, Abby Thornton stated that the project was a fun and engaging activity. “I never realized the true potential of sledding. It shares a global meaning of fun and allowed us to see how velocity, acceleration, speed, and other components contribute to real life.” 

Lucas Spencer, another eighth-grade student, stated it was a great learning adventure he experienced with both family and friends. “This school project allowed for me to really make a home connection,” Spencer said. “I am lucky that my little brother is on the buddy team at the primary school. We have been brothers and buddies all year. We designed and constructed the sled with the help of my Dad
and my uncle.” 

The next mentorship program event will consist of the eighth-grade students hosting a Grandparent Day in May for both groups. “This allows us to make a generation connection with our buddies,” Mallard explained.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.