Cheers and laughter erupted from a group of fourth-graders, as they watched their science lab creation.
“It’s working,” exclaimed a student as she high-fived a member on her team.
Dr. Frassinelli, the Lower School science teacher, loves creating an educational experience for students filled with unique labs and experiments that challenge students to become inquirers who use their critical thinking skills while having fun and enjoying what they are learning.
To help his fourth grade students gain a better understanding of gravity, laws of notion, engineering and data-collecting, Dr. Frassinelli’s conducted a “Gravity challenge” that involved assembling a machine to multiply forces in order to do useful work.
“We touched upon several facets of engineering and introduced rations to the students,” said Dr. Frassinelli. “They each had a motor, a gearbox and a spool of thread. My students were fascinated by the fact that the motor’s shaft spun 288 times for every one time the spool turned. We explained it in terms of a bicycle. Many kiddos have multiple-speed bikes, and everybody understood the difference between climbing the hill in first gear and going down the hill in tenth gear.”
To prepare for the activity, the fourth-grade experimenters teamed up to figure out how to wire up and work their contraption. For weight, the students used a small cup of water clipped to a supporting wire that they connected to the spool. They weighed the water cups and used digital timers to record how many seconds in took the cup to travel from the floor to the ceiling and back down again using the motor to spin the spool.
Each student excitedly waited for their turn to hoist the water cup up and down, and were happy they succeeded in their challenge.
“I try to build in some fun with the science, & this is a nice one to do with the kids,” said Dr. Frassinelli.