Tuesday, 3 April 2018

OK GO - Rube Goldberg in the Grade 5 classroom.

In January, while writing my #OneWord blog post, I made a commitment to contribute 24 articles to this site by the end of the year. I started well, putting two up in the first 14 days of the year. Since then .... crickets.

I know that my new role as an Instructional Coach is getting in the way. I have spent much of my time reading and learning in order to better understand the curriculum (particularly in the Primary grades). Additionally, I am taking a Leadership course, offered by my Board as well as being part of a Crucial Conversations study group with other 1st year coaches.

However, I’m taking some time today to share an idea that came to me while working with a Grade 5 teacher during a Science period.

He was tackling some concepts from “Understanding Structures and Mechanisms - Forces” section of the Ontario Curriculum (p.100-101). Prior to meeting with the students I told him about a great video by the band OK GO called "This Too Shall Pass". In the video, the band members move around an elaborate, warehouse-sized Rube Goldberg machine while singing the song. I have used it in the past to introduce the idea of a deliberately complex contraption that serves a simple task. My students have, in the past, worked collaboratively to design their own*.

However, as this teacher screened the video for the students, another idea struck me.

  • Why not have the students use the screen capture tool on the Chromebook to identify simple machines in the video? 
  • They could then identify the mechanical advantage as well as the input and output force.
  • Ideally, they would work collaboratively on this Google Slide Deck in order to demonstrate the vocabulary skills associated with this unit - load, friction, tension, torque, etc
  • This could then be presented to their peers, further crystallizing their understanding of these concepts.

I’ve made this bit.ly link bit.ly/SimpleMachinesOKGO for easier distribution. I have tried to include everything in the slideshow to make this a self-contained lesson. I won’t likely get a chance to try it out this year - but would love to hear from any Grade 5** teachers who do.  

* A colleague at a school in Singapore made use of the EV3 robots. The challenge was to keep a marble in constant motion for the longest time possible.
**There are some Grade 4 connections possible too.

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