Teaching through Trade Books
The physical science concepts for the elementary grades require students to think about ideas they interact with on a daily basis but need assistance in constructing understanding about. These ideas include sound and energy. The topic for the lower grades focuses on how sound can cause materials to vibrate and how vibrations can cause sound through the use of common objects. Energy is present when there is sound, light, or heat. Helping older students to understand that energy can be moved from one location to another location is a concept that students cannot see directly but can observe related events that represent that transfer. For example, they are able to see light, hear sound, and observe toys that move because of electricity and use toys to help explore.
Students investigate and describe characteristics of sounds. Students also explore how sounds can make materials vibrate and how vibrating materials can make sounds.
Post pictures of the following items in the front of the classroom: a cell phone, snare drum, and guitar (see NSTA Connection). Ask students to consider what sound each item makes and if they have touched each when it was being used. If so, what happened? Could you hear it? Feel it? After an initial discussion about these objects, share the video of Liquid Sound Waves. This video shows both water and Oobleck/slime that have been placed on a speaker (see Internet Resources). Pose the question to the students, “How does sound cause these objects to move?” Allow students to offer ideas and record them on chart paper or the board.
Ask the students to participate in the following investigations. As they do so, have them record information on their Sounds Are All Around student data sheet (see NSTA Connection).
Explain to the students that they are going to listen to some sounds that animals make but not see the animal. They should use their ears to listen and think about what animal it might be that is making that sound. They are going to decide if the sound is high or low and if the sound is loud or soft. Teach the students two different sets of motions—for high and low and soft and loud. For a high sound, have the students put their hands above their heads and for a low sound have them put their hands in their lap. For the loud sounds, ask them to put their hands over their ears and for soft sounds, ask them to put their finger over their mouth as if they were saying “shhh.” Now explain that you are going to ask them to close their eyes while they listen to the sounds so they don’t see what motions the other students are making. Use the Animal Sounds video (see Internet Resources) and play each animal sound for the students without them seeing what the animal is. Replay the sound if necessary. First ask the students to indicate if it was high or low and then ask them to switch and indicate if it was loud or soft. Stop and ask different students why they selected that description for the sound. Once they have listened to all of the animals, ask them to describe which animals made each type of sound on their data sheet.
Now that we have explored soft and loud sounds, ask students to consider if distance from the sound affects how loud or soft it is. Ask students to give an example if they have one. Using the video clips (see Internet Resources), ask students to listen to the following sounds one at a time and describe if they are far away and getting closer or if they are close and starting to move away. The sounds are Thunder Clap, Fire truck Siren, Train, and Migrating Geese.
For this third investigation, obtain a toy drum, a tuning fork, a microphone, speaker system, some rice, and a pan of water. Demonstrate each for the students and ask them to make observations about sound when each is used. First, strike the tuning fork and place it near the top of the water in a pan of water for the students to see. (Do not submerge it.) What do they notice about the water? What happens if you moved the tuning fork away from the water slightly? Second demonstration, place some rice on top of the toy drum and strike it lightly with a drum stick, what do they notice? What happens if you strike the drum harder? Finally, with the third demonstration, place an aluminum pie pan with rice on top of the speaker. Ask the students to predict what would happen when the microphone is used. Allow them to try different words at different volume levels to observe what happens to the rice. Throughout these demonstrations, students should record their ideas on their data sheet.
Now that the students have discussed the ideas that Oscar and Bat explored in the book, and Oscar has explained that his favorite sound is the singing Blackbird, ask them to tell Oscar what their favorite sound is and describe it in a similar way. Using pages 24–25 as a mentor text example, ask the students to complete the My Favorite Sound sheet (see NSTA Connection). Once students have had the chance to complete their own sheet, ask them to share them with the class. Holding their sheets, ask the students to move to one side of the room if they think their sound is loud and the other side if they think their sound is soft. Repeat the movement with high or low where students move to one side or the other. Allow students to explain why they selected their choice of words to describe the sounds.
Using concrete experiences, students are asked to connect the ideas that sounds can be loud or soft, high or low, and that the level of the sound changes as an object making the sound moves toward or away from them. By making observations, students are then asked to explain how sound can make objects move because it creates vibrations and how vibrations can create sound.
Students investigate how energy can be used by different devices to cause them to move, light up, or create sound. Students also brainstorm how a toy might be changed if energy was added to it.
Show students the video clips (see Internet Resources) about toys that move and pose the question “What makes the different toys move or make a sound?” Students may focus on aspects related to what is being done to the toys to make them move or make a sound, such as they are wound up or a button is pushed, or even that they are plugged in to power. Ask students to then generate a list of toys they know about that move and what they know about how they move. Many of the toys listed may be electronic games, but challenge the students to consider other toys such as tops, yo-yos, cars that are pulled back and then released, and toys that wind up. Ask students what all of these toys have in common that help them to move, make sound, or have lights that turn on or off?
The following investigations allow students to recognize that energy can first be generated in different ways and then what happens when energy is used by different objects and toys. Set up stations that allow students to rotate through the different examples:
Station #1: Radio or Flashlight with a Hand crank – Either of these objects are often found as something to include in a kit in case power is lost. The energy that they use to play a radio station or turn on the light is generated by turning a crank on the object. The energy comes from the muscle power that one puts into turning the crank. Ask students to complete the tasks on the different task cards (see NSTA Connection) to determine what happens as they turn the crank. Students should record their ideas on their It’s Energizing student data sheet (see NSTA Connection).
Station #2: Dead or Alive – Set up a battery holder that allows you to attach a string of holiday lights. Help students grasp that the battery has stored energy by including both a new battery and a battery that you know is “dead.” Place electrical tape around a dead battery body so that it is a marker to indicate the difference. Ask students to connect their observations and understandings related to what happens when they test both batteries. Have them record their findings on their data sheet.
Station #3: Battery, Bulb, and Light – This station asks students to create the traditional circuit where a bulb lights once the battery and wire are connected in the proper way. Allow students to experiment with trying to make the bulb light. Once they have done so, ask them to draw their circuit and label the parts.
Station #4: Wind-Up Jumping Toy – Place three of the same wind-up jumping toys at this station. Ask students to follow the directions on the task card, which varies the number of turns that they use to wind up each of the matching toys. Have students explain their observations on their student data sheet that helps them to connect that the winds generate energy, which affects how many times the toy jumps. Warn students not to overwind the toys and follow the directions regarding the number of times they should turn the knob.
Once students have listened to the reading of the story, ask them to make connections between the different toys they explored and the battery pack in Doll-E. Using the following questions as prompts, ask the students to explain the connections:
In the story, Charlotte put her doll back together after the dog ripped it apart. She also used what she knew about energy and computers to have the doll say different words, so she improved her doll. Ask the students to select one of the pictures of toys that are provided (see NSTA Connection) and consider how they could improve this toy if they were able to modify it by connecting it to power. For example, provide them with a picture of a spin top that requires the user to add energy by spinning the top with their hand to make it go. Using the Toy Improvement Blueprint sheet (see NSTA Connection) ask the students to explain how energy is used to make the toy move by sketching it. After they have explained that, ask them to think about how they could change the toy by adding energy if it were in the story instead of Charlotte’s doll. Allow the students to generate their sketch of a revised toy and answer the questions related to what would happen if you could add energy to the toy. Engage the students in an opportunity to discuss their points with others by sharing the images and answering questions related to what could the toy do if energy were added? What would happen if the energy source such as a battery was dead? To ensure that students understand it takes more than simply adding wires to a toy, ask them what else they or Charlotte might need to understand if they really wanted to change the toy?
Throughout these activities, students are being asked to demonstrate their understanding of how energy is used to make toys move and how energy is added into the use of the toy. Within the different stations, students are examining how energy is transferred from one object to another, what happens if stored energy is exhausted, and how the addition of different amounts of energy affect the toys as well. They connect their understanding of energy to actions of Charlotte within the story through a discussion and also consider how they might change a toy of their choice by adding energy.
Animal Sounds https://youtu.be/pTrC_McU62Q
Copper the Dog Moving Toy https://youtu.be/-YpqJr9PVFQ
Fire Truck Siren https://youtu.be/3WJegPGfT0k
Let’s Dance Elmo https://youtu.be/u_QWGf4v4vI
Liquid Sound Waves Video https://youtu.be/JVhYuqr03IQ
Moving Toys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz3Hr-r9srk
Thunder Clap https://youtu.be/qOHuT5njtRA
Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standards
DCI arrangements of the Next Generation Science Standards http://www.nextgenscience.org/search-standards-dci
NSTA Press BookUncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 2, Second Edition: 25 More Formative Assessment Probes
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