After Suzi’s centers, lunch and some free time, the kids were rounded up for my next unit, Simple Machines. First, we listed the six most common simple machines: Lever, Wheel & Axle, Pulley, Inclined Plane, Wedge, and Screws. As I had the kids volunteer each simple machine they could think of, I used some of the ideas from THIS online lesson plan to illustrate the machine and the purpose of each. We also came up with some other ideas to help understand simple machines. A couple of years ago Elsie Marley showed this really sweet, simple balance board idea. Ours weren’t near as fancy as the inspiration boards, but I had planks of wood and cut PVC pipe for the kids to play around with their own balance boards as levers. We talked about how balancing required them alternating the weight arm and force arm on their boards/levers to stay centered on the PVC/folcrum.
For pulleys, I wanted the kids to understand that the trick was to change the direction of the force. So I had the kids partner up. Each partner took a turn laying on the ground with the other partner standing directly over them. The standing partner would try to pull the laying partner straight up.Then we had them try to pull the laying partner up with the standing partner slowly walking backwards, changing the direction of the force applied. It was MUCH easier to lift while walking backward than to life directly up. Even the little kids were able to lift the bigger kids. Kinda cool.
I had two of the older kids try to hammer in flat ended bolts into wood, then try again with a nail to demonstrate the value of a wedge. We also discussed wedgies at length. SCIENCE! There was a screw-driving relay race
And then it was time to combine simple machines and make some weapons!
I had brought a bunch of household odds and ends: rubber bands, popsicle sticks, tape, plastic spoons, spools, etc. The kids were told to first draw out their plans in their composition books and then get to work building catapults, slingshots, whatever. After building, each child demonstrated how their invention worked. Then we went outside, passed out marshmallows and let them have at it!
The next day Christie stepped up to go over States of Matter. Her experiments and demonstrations were beyond cool! You can read more about them on her blog, HERE
After Christie’s unit, Suzi and Christie had more centers ready for the kids
They made Silly Putty
Played with water and cornstarch And Ricardo created geological masterpieces. Then the kids washed them away to learn about erosion.
Suzi had an entire lesson on erosion planned for later that day. But the kids were restless and we decided to go swimming instead. That really is one of the best things about doing our own camp; we can make and rearrange our schedule to fit our moods as we go. Even without the Erosion unit, we still covered a ton of information and the kids were awesome for all of it. Science camp is a ton of work, but I love it. It’s so fun to be with people I love, watching my kids learn and have fun, and playing along with them. I’m already getting excited for next year!
You can read about our 2011 camp HERE