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Young Scientists At Work!

About this Daily Classroom Special
Young Scientists at Work was written by

Michelle Serpenti, teacher at Trinity School of Communication Arts & Technology, New Rochelle, NY. 

Young Scientists At Work!

Lesson #3 Soup Can Olympics

Learning Objectives: The students will predict, observe, measure and record the distances that different cans of soup will travel, in an attempt to find the can that rolls the farthest.

Materials: A 12 x 12 cardboard panel, 4 clothespins, masking tape, a meter stick, teacher made recording sheet, student journals, a can of soup for each child, graph paper, crayons and pencils.

Procedure: As an oral language warm-up activity, the students will be asked to describe the properties of their soup cans. The list of adjectives will be charted as a writing resource for future literacy center activities. The students will be asked to discuss their predictions for how far they believe their soup can will travel in their cooperative groups, as well as record their answers. Using the four clothespins as “legs” and the cardboard panel as the inclined plane, each group of students will construct the “ramp” for the Olympics. Each soup can will then be rolled down the cardboard panel and the distances will be marked with a piece of masking tape containing each student’s name. After all cans have been rolled, the meter stick will allow students to measure and record the distance their can rolled. Each cooperative group of four students will then receive a piece of graph paper and be asked to construct a graph that illustrates their results. The students will also be asked to speculate as to why their can rolled as far as it did. (Leading to a discussion about weight and density.)

Learning Center Activity: Using different fabrics like felt, sandpaper, carpet remnants, cotton and silk, the students can experiment rolling their cans on the different surfaces in order to examine how the various surfaces will effect the distance their cans will roll. This will lead the students to discover the role that friction plays in our daily lives. Students can draw conclusions and record their findings in their journals after discussing them with their peers. 

Technology Link: Using the online activity and downloadable reproducible page from Scholastic’s Magic School Bus, the students can log onto www.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus/games/teacher/forces/index.htm 

in order to learn more about forces and friction.

Assessment: Once students have completed the online activity either at school or at home, the reproducible page from Scholastic’s Magic School Bus can be used as a starting point for writing. Along with their post experiment journal entries, the reproducible page can assess how well the students understand the concepts and vocabulary taught, as well as their ability to analyze results and draw conclusions.

Name:_________________________________ Date:_____

Welcome to the Soup Can Olympics 

Draw a picture of your can. Describe its properties. _____________________________ _____________________________________________________________________)

What do you think will happen when you roll your can? _____________________________________________________________________


How far do you think it will go?______________________________________________

Roll your can. Describe what happened._______________________________________

Watch your friends roll their cans. What kinds of cans roll the best? ______________________________________________________________________

Draw them

What kinds of cans don’t roll very well.?________________________________________

Draw them

If you could pick any type of can to compete in the next Soup Can Olympics, what kind would you pick and why?________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Lesson 4:  “Wheel” Roll Right Over You


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