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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 2: Getting Dizzy with Spinners

Learning Objectives: The students will construct two different types of spinners and conduct timed experiments in order to determine which design creates the longest spinning spinner.

Materials: Thin cocktail straws (two per child), two different sized plastic disks with holes in the middle (two and three inch diameters) striped paper circles to place over the spinners, stopwatches, student journals, teacher made recording sheet, chart paper, large squared graph paper, crayons and pencils.

Procedure: Each pair of students receives a bag of plastic disks and cocktail straws and is asked to construct a spinner. After each group has constructed a spinner by inserting the cocktail straw into the holes of the plastic disks, the students will be asked to explain what they did and why they believe they have made a successful spinner. I will also walk around asking each group to change one of the variables (the height of the plastic disks on the cocktail straw) in the design of their spinners. After experimenting with the change in construction, the students will be asked to determine and record how the height of the disks affects the spinner. In order to test their predictions about which is the best spinner design, each pair of students will be asked to construct both designs, simultaneously spin their spinners and time how long each one spun for. They will repeat the test five times in order to verify the findings, and then be responsible for graphing their results on graph paper.

Learning Center Activity: Students that complete the tasks early can begin to experiment with optical illusions by placing a striped paper cover over the plastic disk on their spinners. Using their journals, students will be asked to make a prediction about what effect the paper cover will have on the spinner, and be amazed to find out the black and white stripes produce a myriad of colors.

Technology Link: During the experiment, students will be given opportunities to take pictures of their partners using the school’s digital camera. Using Adobe Photo Deluxe, the students will be able to print their pictures and use them as a springboard for creative and content area writing.

Extension/Homework: The students will be given a list of key vocabulary words such as disk, motion, spin, whirl, twist, rotate, fast, slow and top. They will be asked to select a friend to whom they can write a letter to, explaining the experiment they did with their partners. These letters can then be typed on the computer and emailed to a friend.

Assessment: Teacher observation through anecdotal notes and questioning is a good way to understand how they problem solve situations and design their structures. Ask them to discuss why they believe their spinner design is the best. In addition, the graphs can be hung up in order to allow an opportunity to draw conclusions and compare findings Yellow stickies provide an excellent way for young scientists to write down their conclusions about what they see in the graphs.

Getting Dizzy with Spinners

Draw your spinner and label the parts.

Where are the plastic disks? Circle one

1.  In the middle of the top.

2.  At the bottom of the top.

Find someone in the other group that has the other kind of spinner. Spin them together and see whose spins longer. Do it five times. Time the spinners. Write the time in seconds.


My spinner

My friend’s spinner

Try #1 ______________ ______________
Try #2 ______________ ______________
Try #3 ______________ ______________
Try #4 ______________ ______________
Try #5 ______________ ______________

Spinning Science Experiment

Name:  _________________________  Date:_______

Draw and write the names of the materials we used to make the spinners.

Explain how you made the spinner.___________________________________________

Draw your spinner.

Draw two different types of spinners that you can build.

Which was the better spinner? ___________________________


_______________________ _______________________________________________

Draw the paper circle (with the design) that we put on the spinners at the end.

How did the paper circle make the spinner look different? _____________________________________________________________________


Design a new paper cover to go over your spinner and explain what will happen when a friend spins the spinner with your cover.

Lesson 3:Soup Can Olympics


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