In their current ‘Space Explorers” IPC unit, Grade 4 have been learning how we can ﬁnd out more about our solar system and the deeper mysteries of the universe.
The unit opened with the Entry Point, the Alien Egg Drop Challenge. As a fun way to generate excitement for our new unit, students were challenged to design space landing crafts that kept an “alien” or egg from breaking when dropped from the second floor into the outdoor learning garden. Everyone had fun building and testing the landing crafts!
In preparation for exploration into traveling to distant planets, students conducted a fair test investigation to determine the best material to protect against “extreme” temperatures. After discussing and researching heat insulation and conduction, the class worked together to create a question to test. Our question was, “What material will keep an ice cube solid for the longest time at room temperature?” Students then used the scientific method to test their question while working to justify their predictions, investigations, findings, and conclusions.
Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher Jennifer Cromme noted that this activity draws a link to the FIS’s guiding principle of high quality learning as it demonstrates authenticity and critical thinking.
Our next step in preparation to explore the universe was to design a space suit using the best material from our experiment. Students worked collaboratively to research information about some of the problems astronauts experience in space. They then used their findings to brainstorm spacesuit features that might solve these problems. After creating their designs, Grade 4 used recycled and maker space materials to create prototypes of their suits. The students will now test the space suits to see if they can withstand extreme temperatures.
Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher Andrew Piehler noted that the students seemed to enjoy expressing their creativity which is another aspect of high quality learning.
What the Students are Saying
Here are a few quotes from students about their inquiry learning:
Vish said, “The space suit task is an interesting and fun way to create a fair test, and it makes up for the ice cube experiment which turned out to be unfair. One reason why the ice cube experiment was unfair was that some people wrapped their ice cubes tightly while others wrapped theirs loosely. I am looking forward to the end of the space suit task because it is a great way to learn the engineering process properly.”
Aaron said, “I think that the ice cube experiment was not a fair test. Since we are creating astronauts’ space suits, I think it makes up for the ice cube experiment. Also, I think that the ice cube experiment is going to help a lot with the space suits because we know what materials are going to work, and which are probably not going to work.”
Tim said, “I find that designing the astronauts’ space suit will be exciting because we will build something again. The ice cube experiment was fun but it was an unfair test. The space suit is not going to be an unfair test because the astronauts are going to be the same size. That’s why it is fairer than the ice cube experiment.”