Recently, the Grade 4/5 students at Trenton Christian School were given permission to break their toys. No, they weren’t their Christmas toys—they were learning how to look for energy transformations.
The classes have begun studying the OACS unit on Conservation of Energy, and were exploring energy transformations. Tapping into their playful and inquisitive minds, teacher Elsie Kuipers created a “Comeback can” from a Pringles tube. This led to questions about more ways that energy can be stored, used, transferred and lost.
Rather than trying to explain with words alone, Kuipers took her class to a local thrift store and obtained toys that they could take apart and use for learning. Their first task was to predict how the toys work, how they store their energy, and what energy transformations are happening when the toy is in action.
Taking they toys apart required problem solving and patience—even though there were numerous screwdrivers and tools available to be used. Some toys were assembled with unconventional screws, such as ones with triangular heads. But the rewards outweighed the struggles, as students were given the opportunity to see the answers to their questions first-hand.
Kuipers adds that trying to reassemble the toys after the learning was “pretty much unsuccessful”.
Learning science matters though hands-on activities is something Kuipers is continually trying to accomplish in her classroom. Students are now working on Rube Goldberg machines to create continuous bubbles. They are working in groups at home and filming their machines in action.
“They are excited and motivated, and are learning to use the language of science to communicate what is happening,” shares Kuipers. “Science comes to life when it is hands-on!”