Head-Royce News

TEACHING & LEARNING: Fourth Graders Turn Electrical Energy into Light

While experimentation with electromagnetism and complex principles in physics sounds like concepts reserved for advanced high-schoolers, Head-Royce lower schoolers have been tackling both topics with gusto!

Fourth graders recently wrapped up a 12-week unit on electricity and magnetism where, as part of their final assessment, they had to build a device that would change electrical energy into light, motion, or sound.

“Half of their grade is the design. They have to do the schematic diagram (electric circuit), know all of their building parts, sizes, and measurements. They will get five hours to build this device,” science teacher Debra Harper explained.

For the average adult, this challenge is one that would leave them stumped, but the 4th graders weren’t intimidated in the least. In the organized chaos of the LS Maker's Lab (which looked more like Dexter’s Laboratory!) students used wire, wood, tape, glue, cellophane, and laminate material to build out their designs. The initial frustration in the room was palpable, though it’s that frustration that really seemed to fuel their learning.

Saira B. was very clear on her vision. She was going to build a light-up bumble bee.

“I’m going to use cellophane and laminate material and I’m going to use cardboard for the base,” she said.

But it proved to be more difficult than she thought.

“I have to keep re-doing the measurements. My connections won’t work and I have to take it apart and rebuild it, which is frustrating,” Saira lamented.

The bumble bee was complex enough, but some students took the challenge a step further.

“We’re building a maze. A marble will travel down the track and when it hits the LED battery it’s going to light up,” explained Elliot L. and his partner, Kaden C.

Harper was well-aware of how difficult this challenge was for the students, but her faith in them never waivered.

“Part of the challenge was to keep it simple. Not only are they addressing the circuitry problems and designing a working switch, they had to make the track smooth and cool looking, too!”

Oh, and if you’re wondering, while conducting the interview with Harper, Saira interrupted will high squeals. After several attempts, she was finally able to get her bumble bee to light up!

Bird's Eye View is a story series highlighting our work towards the initiative and goals laid out in our Strategic Plan: Bridge to 2022.

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