Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CSI does CSI! 5th Grade

We had some interesting events take place at the CSI Lab last week. Last Sunday a group of scientists held a meeting at our science lab. On Monday morning, our principal, Mr. Ogg, received 5 phone calls from different women claiming they left a skull and some money in the lab. Mr. Ogg took information from each of the women and turned the investigation over to the 5th graders to complete in CSI class on Wednesdays.

So we went to work gathering evidence from the scene. We found small hairs, fibers, a spot of a substance that looked like blood, a shoe print, money, a note and the skull. We labeled these carefully and then tested the fibers we found from the scene.





We wrote our observations in our journal. Students examined the photographs and information from the "claimants" and compared the information to the discoveries we were making.


It was interesting comparing the different fibers under the microscope. They all looked different. It was easy to match the crime scene fabrics with the cotton fibers although at first they looked like wool.





Tomorrow we will test Chromatography of the ink left on the note at the scene and we will test the hairs that were found. We have information on all the claimants' pens and pets.

My favorite part of the lesson was when the scientists noticed connections and clues between the claimants by reading and thinking on their own. Parker noticed that two of the women in the photographs were wearing the same cap! Then, a group of students noticed that the women all looked alike! Joanna noticed that one of the woman's name was "Pam Entologist" and she was a paleontologist and therefore could have had a skull at the meeting!
Great thinking!
If you have any information about the person owning the skull and missing money, please leave a comment below.

Monday, January 30, 2012

6th Grade Invention Convention

We started our Inane Innocuous Invention Convention Project for 2012. Today we began building our inventions which are our own Rube Goldberg creations. Our invention must accomplish a simple everyday task and can not use batteries. We introduced Newton's First Law with a couple of demos:
Place a vase, metal pie pan, cardboard tube and egg in a tower. Quickly knock the pie pan horizontally and this should cause the egg to fall in to the vase. Egg Drop Experiment.

Sometimes the cardboard tube lands in the vase, too.
The second demo uses Inertia Rings balanced on top of a plastic soda bottle and then a small hex nut balanced on top of the ring.
We all tried grabbing the ring and allowing the hex nut to fall into the bottle.
These two activities show Newton's First Law. He said that since the egg is not moving while it sits on top of the tube it stays in place - ah, no force is acting upon it.  We applied enough force to the pie pan to cause it to zip out from under the cardboard tube. We knocked the support out from under the egg. The egg didn’t move because it was already stationary (not moving). Then, the force of gravity took over and pulled the egg straight down toward the center of the Earth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Creating Magazine Covers Using Technology

"Create a Magazine Cover" has been an assignment that has been around a while. Students used markers or colored pencils to enhance and extend ideas cut from real magazines.  It is exciting to re-design the lesson using technology and a website called Big Huge Labs. This idea came from Denise Burke, a Technology Specialist in Lewisville,  Texas. I tried the lesson out last year, with the 5th graders, after listening to her presentation at TCEA in Austin. Her presentation is repeated this year at TCEA and I highly recommend her session if anyone is planning to attend. Her presentation was entitled, "Exploring the Outer Limits: Web 2.0 Projects for GT Students". One of the highlights of her session was using "Big Huge Labs" to  create magazine covers.
Students use picsforlearning or edupics to select an image.

Example image selected by one of my students last year:
This one image will be cropped and edited through Picnik to make 3 different magazine covers for three different audiences. Picnik is free and easy to use. Students can save their cropped images to the desktop to make it easy to transfer to Big Huge Labs to create their covers.

Here is a magazine cover the student created using Big Huge Labs: I have them make a storyboard to organize their thoughts.

His audience was artists and craftsmen. He designed another cover by zooming in to the "black" area and targeting an audience interested in "oil and gas".

I love this project because ... the students are using the computer as a tool to create something new from their own thoughts. There are a million different ways to create their own magazine covers. It also promotes thinking specifically with  the student's ability to take on the perspective of another person: the audience of their created magazine. Tomorrow we are making our first magazine cover with this year's students. Mrs. Schoppe has made a rubric to help guide the students in creating an outstanding project. I will share the results in a post later.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Molds and Casts: 5th

I always liked making molds and casts using the Nasco Rubber molds of animal footprints. The molds are highly detailed and show the animal's unique characteristics.
Things to teach with this are almost endless:
molds and casts of fossils
fossil formation
what fossils teach us
animal tracks
animal adaptations (foot)
chemical reaction (plaster)

If I can connect art and science that is a plus, too. So when we paint the casts on day 2, we can be artistic.

Casts are dry in about two hours, so I was able to pop out the first class before the second class came. This gave everyone a good choice of molds to choose from.

We used eye loupes to examine my small fossil collection and made inferences about where they may have been found.

Day 2: Paint, Let Dry, and Take Home


Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Kmiec

Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Kmiec
First Lego League Competition 2014

About US

Mrs. Sarah Cook and Mrs. Janis Kmiec are the lead investigators at CSI. Mrs. Cook manages the lab lessons as well as the Science Curriculum for BISD. Mrs. Kmiec leads the technology lab investigations. Both teachers love making CSI fun, exciting, and full of learning for their students.