To finish off our Physical Science unit on forces and to have a bit of festive fun we conducted an experiment to see which surfaces would be easiest for pulling a sleigh across.
The children were introduced to the idea via a letter from Santa which told them that Rudolph was too sick to pull the sleigh this year so he was going to have to use one less reindeer. To make it easier for the remaining reindeer, Santa needed to know which surfaces were the best for pulling the sleigh.
You can read about our experiment from the students' point of view on my class blog.
The first lesson involved the children discovering the letter from Santa and then thinking about different surfaces that Santa might travel along (when he wasn't flying, of course). We are seriously lacking snow and ice in Brisbane this Christmas!
The next lesson was very fun and creative. The students has to design their own model Santa sleigh to be used in their experiment. We had round tubs for them to use as the base. A more rectangular shape might be a bit easier (such as a margarine tub) but we needed something that we could get 24 the same.
In the following lesson we used spring balances to measure the force in Newtons (which was not really in the Year 2 Science curriculum but it was fun anyway and it did allow them to do a real experiment with simple measurements). If you would like to use the experiment worksheet we used, it is available from my TPT store.
The final part of the lesson sequence was to write a letter back to Santa with the findings. One of my students who struggles with writing used the iPad to record his letter instead.
This was a great assessment of the students' understanding of Science. It was interesting to see which students clearly understood the purpose of the experiment and were able to articulate this in their letter to Santa. A few of my "super-competitive" types were at first confused because they decided that the surfaces that had "the biggest number" must have been the best. It took a little while for them to realise that they were looking for the surface that needed the smallest number of newtons because they needed the "easiest" surface.
Since we had no icy surfaces, we used soapy lino to make something slippery that might be similar to ice.
The children's measurements were not exactly accurate and they didn't quite grasp the idea of having to keep the weight the same each time but they seemed to get the idea that some surfaces were easier to pull things along than others, which was the main aim. And they had a lot of fun!