Energy theme explores electromagnetism, renewable energy

Our current theme, Endlessly Changing Energy, is entering its seventh and final week. During Theme Circle in the elementary school, the focus will be on noted African American mechanical engineer and inventor Elijah McCoy, and on renewable energies. Front room students will busy themselves dropping eggs (sic!) and making simple machines. During the last two weeks, they explored inertia by driving dolls, balls or each other around in the wheelbarrow. As the wheelbarrow was pushed in a straight line then turned to the right, they saw the objects or felt their body roll/lean to the left, thus experiencing first hand the tendency of bodies to continue straight while the wheelbarrow turns “under them.” They also experimented with marbles, magnets and electrical circuits.

Back room and middle school students will be exploring electromagnetism and renewable energies. Over the past two weeks, backroom students saw how chemical energy can be turned into light by experimenting with glow sticks. They saw how potential energy can be turned into kinetic energy by dropping objects and comparing rates of fall (which should be the same for all objects save the effect of air friction, remember the feather and hammer drop on the moon demonstration?

They also experimented with inertia using the wheelbarrow. They saw how chemical energy can be turned into electrical energy by building potato and orange juice batteries, and they played energy bingo, a game that allows them to review energy forms. Middle school students also experimented with chemical energy, using glow sticks and building apple batteries, and they continued their practice of making hypothese, taking notes, drawing diagrams and discussing conclusions.

Guest presenters include:

  • Dr. Ed Fenimore, an astrophysicist and high energy expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Fenimore (aka Oliver’s grandfather)  gave presentations to both the elementary and the middle school last week. These were met with such enthusiasm that students are asking for a second visit if possible. Thank you, Dr. Fenimore!
  • Sarah Ward, a.k.a. Sean and Maddie May’s mom, came to the elementary school on Thursday to show how a speaker strategically placed in a room can help people hear even if they plug their ears with cotton balls.
  • ReThink Energy Florida has kindly agreed to send its outreach team to our school on Friday, Nov. 20 at 11:00 a.m. One presenter will address grades K-4 and the other grades 5-8. The emphasis of the presentations will be on renewable energies.

Finally, remember that our end-of-theme home project is to be presented/displayed on Monday, November 23rd, the day of our Thanksgiving Feast.

After Thanksgiving, we will start a new theme, “Viva Mexico!,” that will focus on the geography and culture of Mexico, with some historical strands as well.