Interactions can be explained by describing how variables change within a system and how a system interacts with other objects or systems.
When I experiment I collect observations that describe how different properties change (become variables) when objects and systems interact. This helps me explain what is happening and to predict what might happen in the future.
When an object or system moves in a circle around a central axis, it is called
rotational motion. If a force is applied to the system, it can be put in motion.
A push from one side can easily move the whole system to a new location, called
The outside of a wheel is a circle. A circle is the shortest line around a given area. A circle can be both stable and unstable depending on what is used to balance it.
Each student: 2 large plastic disks, 2 small plastic disks (Use plastic lids from plastic containers Examples: yogurt lids, coffee can lids), 1 slim plastic white straw, 1 paper clip, 1 scissors, paper, crayons or markers, 1 student sheet called Spinning Designs FOSS
For the class: extra slim straws, transparent tape, and 1 duplication master for Spinning Designs
1. To introduce the tops ask the students if they know what a top is.
2. Tell the students that today they are going to build tops and study the subject of motion.
3. Describe and model how to make the tops. Show the students how to slide the straw through the disks by inserting the straws through the side with circular marks on the disk. Tell them that they may add designs to the top. They can create their own design or use ones that are offered on the Spinning Design sheet. Use a little tape to hold the design in place or push a small disk down on top of the design to hold it securely.
4. Tell them that they are to Practice spinning the tops. Try to slide a few disks of different sizes on the straw and see how that affects the spinning. Also try different designs and watch the designs to see how they change.
5. Organize pairs of students.
6. Hand out the materials that are needed. 1 slim straw, 2 small disks, 2 large disks
7. Give the students time to explore with the tops. While the students explore visit each group and provide encouragement and observe the interesting ways the tops are being made.
8. After an appropriate amount of time call the class together and ask:
a. Did you make a top?
b. What did you use to make your top?
c. How do you know when you have made a top?
d. How do you know it is moving?
e. What part of the tops moves?
f. What does the straw do?
g. How does a top move when it is working?
h. What kind of motion does a top make when it is going?
9. Explain and discuss with the students that when something turns in circles or goes around and around we call it spinning or rotating. The tops rotate when they are working.
10. After discussion of motion ask
a. What is the best design for a top that spins a long time? (Students should answer, many disks on a short straw)
b. What is the best design for a top that spins fast? (Students should answer, many small disks)
c. How does adding disks help?
d. How does having the disks high or low on the straw affect how it spins?
e. How many ways are there to spin a top? (Between thumb and first finger and between two palms)
11. Where in the world are there objects that spin? How do people have to design them so they can spin real well?
12. To add colorful designs to the tops cut out a design on the Spinning Designs sheet and color them. Poke a hole in the center of the design with a pencil. Slide the design on the top. Use tape or a small disk to hold the design in place.
13. Demonstrate using a paper clip to hold the top upright for slow rotation.
14. Give the students some time to design their own tops and observe them.
15. After students are done exploring their own design on their tops collect all the materials and return them.
16. Discuss with the students about the top designs that make interesting color when they spin.
17. Why do colors change?
18. How were you like scientists today?
19. How may you use what you learned today?
Each student: 1 large plastic disk, 1 string that is 100 115 cm long
For each group: 1 student sheet called Zoomers
1. Prepare zoomer strings as a whole class, plan 30-40 minutes for students to build zoomers and become proficient using them.
2. Preparing zoomers.
a. For visual reference hand out to each student a copy of Zoomers sheet (Found in the back of the packet.)
b. Each student will need a string 100 115 cm long.
c. Run one end of string through one of the outside holes in a large disk and back through the other outside hole.
d. Tie the two ends of the string together.
3. To operate the zoomers
a. Stick your thumbs through the loops formed by the end of the string.
b. Whirl the large disk around between your hands 15 or 20 times to twist the string.
c. Pull the string tight to start the disk spinning. Release tension so that the string, can wind up as much as possible in the opposite direction.
d. Apply tension again to make the disk rotate rapidly in the other direction again.
e. Continue pulling and releasing to get the disk rotating rapidly. Listen for the zoom.
4. Ask the students if they ever heard of zoomers. Tell them that they are kind of like tops and that they are going to make them. Give the student time to assemble the zoomers and also explore with them.
a. Review with the students and ask the students to recall the activity with the tops.
b. Ask what kind of motion did the tops make?
c. How do you know it is moving?
d. What part of the zoomers moves?
e. What does the string do?
f. How does a zoomer move when it is working?
g. What kind of motion does a zoomer make when it is going?
5. Reinforce that the tops spin and rotate when they are in motion.
6. Discuss with the students that tops are not the only things that spin. Zoomers also spin when they are in motion.
7. Where in the world are there objects that spin? How do people have to design them so they can spin real well?
8. How were you like scientists today?
9. How may you use what you learned today?
For each student: 1 Jumbo straw, 1 paper clip, transparent tape, scissors, 1 student sheet called Twirler Wings, and 1 student sheet called Twirly Bird (Cut a rectangle that is 8 inches by 2 inches, cut a slit down the middle for about 2 inches, fold the two clipped pieces down 90 degrees to make a t shaped twirler. Experiment with different sizes, and adding paper clips.)
1. Plan for two sessions of 30-40 minutes for the class.
2. Discuss with the class the spinning motions of the top and zoomers from the previous activities. Get the students to notice and recall that in both cases the students had to make the tops and zoomers rotate by twisting the tops or pulling the zoomer string.
3. Tell them that they will make a spinner that will rotate by itself.
4. Hold up a jumbo straw and tell the students that their job is to make the straw spin.
5. Distribute the materials needed to make the twirlers.
6. As a whole class explain how to make the twirlers.
a. On the students sheet Twirler Wings, cut the sheet in half on the heavy central line. There are two different wing designs on each half sheet. The wings are cut on solid lines and folded on dashed lines.
b. Each student should have only half of the Twirler Wings sheet.
c. Practice making twirlers with both kinds of wings.
d. Start with a half sheet. Cut the two wings apart. Cut off and discard the dark gray areas on the larger wing.
e. Cut a 1- cm slit in one end of a jumbo straw.
f. Fold one of the wings in half.
g. Insert the fold into the slit.
h. Drop the twirler form as high as you can.
7. Try both of the wing patterns. Play with the fold lines to see which twirler system spins the best when it drops.
8. Give students time to explore with the twirlers.
9. After they have had a chance to explore ask for volunteers to share and demonstrate how their twirler works.
10. Ask the students..
a. What kind of wings makes the twirler spin faster?
b. What kind of wings makes the twirler spin slowly?
c. What kind of wings makes the twirler fall slowly?
d. What find of folds did you have to make to get your twirler to spin?
e. How could you change your twirler to make it better?
11. When students have had time to explore and discuss, make copies of the Twirly Bird sheet and cut the sheet into four pieces on the heavy lines. Give each student _ of the copy of the sheet Twirly Bird.
a. Cut one of the patterns on the solid lines and fold on the dashed lines.
b. The body of the twirler will be three sheets thick and the wings should stick out in opposite directions.
c. Attach a paper clip to the end of the body and drop the twirly bird from as high as you can reach.
10. After students have had time to explore with the Twirly birds ask for volunteer to show and demonstrate how their twirly birds fly.
11. Bring the whole class together and discuss how tops, zoomers, and twirlers are all the same. Students should say that they all rotate.
a. What is similar about the tops, zoomers, and twirlers?
b. What kind of motion is taking place in all three?
c. How is this same motion achieved in the tops, zoomers, and twirlers?
12. Ask the students how they are different. Students should then say the way the person gives the objects motion is different.
13. Continue the discussion with questions like, what other kinds of things rotate and spin?
14. How were you like scientists today?
15. How may you use what you learned today?
Each student: 2 large plastic disks, 2 small plastic disks, (Use plastic lids from plastic containers Examples: yogurt lids, coffee can lids), and 1 slim straw
Each pair of students: 1 cardboard ramp 12" x 18", 4 clothespins
For the class: additional slim straws, transparent tape, tinker toys
1. Organize the students into groups of four to six students. Students work in pairs within the group.
2. Hand out the materials that are needed.
3. Set up the cardboard ramp.
4. Clip two clothespins on one end of the cardboard.
5. Clip a second clothespin on each of the first two clothespins to make legs.
6. Regroup the students and ask them what type of motion they have experienced (spinning from the previous lesson)
7. Ask them how they know when something is spinning. (goes around fast)
8. Hold up the large disks. Explain that they are like wheels.
9. Explain that they will have to share the ramp, but they will each have their own set of wheels.
10. Allow time for the students to explore the wheels on the ramps. Ask them what they found out. (wheels slide and roll).
11. Ask students if they have any ideas on how to make their wheels roll better.
12. Show them the axle (straw) and have them explore with the wheels and the axle.
13. Ask the students what they found out when they used the axle and the wheels.
14. Hold up the small wheels. Ask the students to find out if small wheels roll the same as large wheels.
15. After they have explored this idea discuss the interesting wheel systems they have created.
16. Give them time to extend their ideas by allowing them to make new and interesting wheel and axle combinations.
17. Bring the whole class together and discuss what type of motion the wheels made.
a. How is this motion similar to tops, zoomers, and spinners?
b. How is this motion different than the above?
c. What other objects have you seen that can roll besides wheels?
d. How were you like scientists today?
e. How may you use what you learned today?
18. Optional: Students can use tinker toys to find out more information about wheels and axles.
Each student: 1 large paper cup (150 ml), 1 small paper cup (90 ml)
Each pair of students: 1 cardboard ramp (12" x 18"), 4 clothespins, 2-5 pennies
Each group: 1 roll of transparent tape
1. Organize the students into the same groups as used in the Rolling Wheels activity.
2. Hand out the materials that are needed.
3. Ask the students what kinds of motion wheels make. (Wheels roll when they are in motion.)
4. Show the students the cups and explain that wheels are not the only things that roll. Tell the student that they are going to investigate how each cup rolls.
5. Let the students explore rolling the cups.
6. Call the students back together and ask the students how the cups roll. (The cups do not roll straight.) Why did the cups roll in a circle? What determines which direction the cup will roll? Does the smaller cup roll in a bigger circle or a smaller circle than the larger cup? (Talk about their answers)
7. Propose the different problems the students will be trying to solve. When one of these problems is solved, allow them to move on to the next problem. The problems are:
a. Propose the Park-the-Car Problem. Pretend that your cup is a car and the parking garage is underneath the ramp. Try to make your cup roll down the ramp and end up parked under the ramp. When a student has success, have them try to drive the car in from the other side or drive in from the back of the ramp.
b. Propose the Fall-on-Your-Face Problem. Roll the small cup across the ramp in such a way that it ends up face down on the table. It can be done.
c. Propose the Straight-Cup-Rolling Problem. When given tape, pennies, and two different sized cups you will find a way to make a cup roll straight.
8. After students have discovered an effective way to roll the cups have them add more weight with the pennies to see what happens. Let students explore with the pennies and then have a show-and-tell of what they have discovered.
9. Disassemble all of the materials carefully and put them away.
10. Bring the class together and discuss how the cups rolled:
a. What caused the cups to roll in one direction?
b. What kind of strategies did you use to solve the problems?
c. What effect did the pennies have on the cup?
d. What happened when you added more weight to the cup?
e. How were you like scientists today?
f. How may you use what you learned today?
Each pair of students: 2 marbles, 2 plastic cups, 2 lids for plastic cups, 1 runway (plastic foam)
For the class: masking tape
1. Organize the students in the same groups as used for the Rolling Cups activity.
2. Hand out the materials that are needed
3. Review the rolling motions of the wheels and cups.
a. What type of motion did the wheels and cups make?
4. Tell them that today they will investigate a sphere. A sphere is round in every direction, like a ball.
5. The spheres can roll out of control so they will keep their sphere in a cup with a lid at all times.
6. Let the students investigate how the marbles spin in the cups with the lids on.
7. Show them the plastic-foam runways. They will use the runways with their partner.
8. Challenge the students to find out how marbles roll in runways. Allow them to use the masking tape if they want to.
a. How will you keep the marble from escaping the runway?
9. After they have explored this idea, have students share what they have found.
10. Tell them that their runways look like roller coasters.
11. Have them plan on how to make their marble do tricks on the runway.
12. Allow students to work in teams and combine their runways.
13. Monitor the projects and exploration.
14. Regroup as a class and demonstrate their projects.
15. Disassemble all of the materials carefully and put them away.
16. Propose making a single line marble run using the entire runway. Have a discussion about what they learned about rolling marbles in the runways.
a. How did the marble roll in the runways?
b. How could you change the speed of the marble on the runways?
c. What factors effected how the marble rolled on the runway?
17. Allow students to construct their project with little assistance.
18. Encourage them to tape the runway to objects, not people.
19. After project is complete have students reflect on all of the rolling activities they have experienced.
a. What was similar about rolling the wheels, cups, and marbles?
b. What was different about rolling these objects?
c. How do these objects move when they are working?
d. What changed the movement of the objects?
e. How were you like scientists today?
f. How may you use what you learned today?
20. Disassemble the project and put the materials away.