Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Warm-Up activities

We opened and closed our day with a math problem involving triangles. First, kids worked on it this morning on their own or in small groups. In time, everyone got to the correct answer. The really interesting part was later in the afternoon, when a sampling of kids took turns explaining how they had solved it. Of the kids who shared their processes, we saw at least three different methods (and a few variations) on how to approach the problem.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wiring up Ant Arbor with Joanna's class

We had a lovely afternoon with Joanna's class today, working to install lighting circuits in the model homes built by the younger students. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

STEM: Learning about circuitry and wiring

We've been learning a lot about electricity as part of our STEM work with our Cities theme. We'll be putting this new knowledge to use later this week when we visit Joanna's 3/4 class to help them install lighting in the tiny city that they're building in their classroom ("Ant Arbor"). 

Before we can teach the younger kids, we needed to get some experience ourselves: 

We disassembled switches, outlets, and power cords, examining the inner workings. 

STEM: Chromatography lab

We had a guest teacher yesterday afternoon! Laura Cesa visited from the University of Michigan to lead us in a chromatography lab. We used the ink in markers to get a hands-on experience with the components of solutions, making connections to the often invisible contaminants that can enter our drinking water. 

Read a little more about it here

Thank you for visiting, Laura! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

STEM -- Ohm's Law

For the last couple of weeks in STE/Math the middle schoolers have been learning about electric circuits.

We started with the initial prompt: "Here is a battery, a lightbulb and some wires. Make it light up."

After the initial investigation we discussed the key elements that are needed to complete a circuit: a closed path, a voltage source (battery), a load (lightbulb).

Now students were asked to investigate more complex circuits with multiple bulbs and batteries. 

In math class we were able to go a little more in depth into the relationship between the number of lightbulbs, batteries and the brightness of the light (the energy usage rate, which we came to learn in this case is directly related to the current). From some thought exercises, experimental observations (we also talked about independent and dependent variables) and a basic understanding of the mechanism of electrical current we we're able to derive an approximation of Ohm's Law for series circuits--basically doubling the voltage (number of batteries) makes the bulbs twice as bright and doubling the number of lightbulbs cuts the brightness in half.
This led us a little further into math as we talked about direct and indirect proportions; the green group even got a little into the characteristics graphs of direct (a line through the origin) and indirect proportions (a hyperbola with the axes as asymptotes).