Sunday, January 19, 2014

Underwater Lab - Brick by Brick

In math class students were given the assignment of constructing a 24x8x10 ft. underwater research station. Using unit blocks, the students modeled a scaled down version that was able to accommodate 4 people and included a kitchen/living room, bedroom, and bathroom. They built a separate wet lab facility outside the main structure for experiments.

The group worked collaboratively, decided on the base design, and then recorded the necessary dimensions for calculating perimeter, area, and volume, for each room in their station. Their work also involved testing different methods of construction. After some trial and error, the students found that the strongest wall construction resulted when they used alternating brick orientations and that the weakest wall resulted when the brick seams were vertically aligned on top of one another other. Similar testing was done to shore up the corners and the students determined the best method for building and uniting strong intersecting walls.

Kindergartners would not be left out, they helped finish off the station by making signs and labels and thoughtfully affixed them around the underwater research vessel so that each room was clearly identified.

One 2nd grader suggested that the station be lit so we decided to include a lesson on electrical circuits. After a demonstration of open and closed circuits, and a discussion about volts and batteries, the students determined that they would be able to install only 3 small light bulbs (each requiring 2.33 volts) using the provided 9 V battery.

After the group worked together to measure out the appropriate wire lengths and determined the best placement for the lights within the station, we decided that another demonstration was in order.

We ventured outside and using relatively easy to find materials we fashioned a homemade light bulb. As electricity began to flow from our "super battery" it heated up our graphite (pencil refill) and it began to glow!

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