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My own classroom experience

On November 24th, 2014, I went back to my old middle school and presented to the grade 5 class and also the grade 6 class. I started the class out by giving instructions telling them that I wanted them to form groups of 2 to 3 people and how I wanted them to proceed with the class activity of building parachutes. Once groups were divided, I handed out plastic ziplock bags that were each filled with one garbage bag, four pieces of string and one nut to act as the weight. The class was given fifteen minutes to build their parachutes. There were many ideas floating around and the kids got creative. Some groups decided to cut open the garbage bag to create a bigger surface area while some even got the idea to use the ziplock bag that contained all the materials as air bags to try to keep the parachute up in the air longer. One group opened up the garbage bag and used the entire garbage bag opened as their parachute to capture more of the air into the bags. One group even streaded the pieces of string that were given to them into thinner strands so that it would lighten the load of the parachute.


After the building process, the parachutes were tested. The elementary school that I went to had a second floor balcony that overlooked into a commons room. So I had one of the partner of a group up on the balcony while the other partner would wait on the ground floor. The partner up on the balcony would drop their parachute and everyone else would watch and observe which parachute fell the slowest. Each parachute went one at a time and it was clear to see which parachutes were the slowest to descend.


The kids were then brought back into the classroom where there were some discussion questions asked. Questions such as why objects fall to the group were brought up and what air resistance was andwhat  air resistance depends on. The kids in grade 6 generally had a good idea and caught on fast while the kids in grade 5 needed a few more hints and pushing towards the right answer.


Next, the demonstration project was shown. I asked them what they thought would happen if I dropped the two objects, the rock and the piece of cardboard just out in the open and what would happen if I dropped them in the tube that was vacuumed. My demonstration worked and the two objects, the rock and the piece of cardboard dropped to the bottom of the container at the same rate. I knew it would be hard to see so I also showed the class the ball and feather drop video that was done by NASA to see it on a much larger scale.


I took questions at the end and concluded my presentation. The entire process took around 45 minutes to 50 minutes depending on how quickly the kids were able to move from one part of the lesson to the next part. Overall, the kids had a good grasp of what was happening and had good questions and explanations of how and why things happen the way that they do. The only problems that I had and a reminder to myself for next time is to come prepared with extra materials for the class activity just in case things get lost or broken and to also plan extra time where the kids need to settle down and start listening. But it was a good learning experience and it was a lot of fun trying to get the kids be more excited about science and see them curious and interested about physics and science.

CHART 1: This is a timeline of what a 50 minutes lesson would look like.

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