Elementary Programs Chapter

By Laura Douglas and Stacey Irish-Keffer

Section 4: Observation Deck: Stories about Science

Section 4: Observation Deck: Stories about Science

Stop by the observation deck and take a look around. Use these suggestions to plan programs featuring different aspects of science.

Bulletin Board

Clipart - Text on side of Engine says 'Stories about science' top says and 'The Reading Express'on bottom. Several characters are shown through window, one person is looking through telescope on top of train.

Featured Book

My Life with the Wave translated and adapted by Catherine Cowan.

Books to Display:

Boat by Eric Kentley.

I Get Wet by Vicki Cobb.

Just Add Water: Science Projects You Can Sink, Squirt, Splash, Sail by New Book of Popular Science.

Let's Try It Out In the Water: Hands-On Early-Learning Science Activities by Seymour Simon.

The Science of Water: Projects with Experiments with Water and Power by Steve Parker.

Introduction

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Ask the children to discuss some of the ways water is important. Ask if they have been to the ocean. Let those who have been to the beach share their experience, focusing on what it was like and whether they enjoyed it or not.

Read

My Life with the Wave translated and adapted by Catherine Cowan.

Discussion

Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What does the wave do when she is angry?”

“What does the boy give her to try and make her happy?”

“What does the wave do that makes her have to leave?”

“How does the boy feel about taking the wave back to the ocean?”

Nonfiction Topic: Buoyancy

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.

Buoyancy

Buoyancy is the reason things float, or seem to weigh less in the water than on land. Archimedes' principle states that an object fully or partly immersed in a liquid is buoyed upward by a force equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by that object. From this principle, he concluded that a floating object displaces an amount of liquid equal to its own weight.

Lead the children in a discussion using these questions.

“Will wood or metal float on water?”

“What other materials float on water?”

“Why do we make boats out of metal if metal doesn’t float?”

Show pictures of the history of boats, including wooden boats, log boats, rafts, canoes, plank boats, and metal boats from Boat by Eric Kentley.

Crafts

Demonstration of Buoyancy

(By Professor Charles Irish. Used with permission.)

Materials
  • Tray of water
  • Pieces of wood
  • Pennies
Directions

Discuss the principle of buoyancy. Archimedes' principle states that an object fully or partly immersed in a liquid is buoyed upward by a force equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by that object. Fill a tray at least 3” to 6” deep with water. Drop pieces of wood that are about 1 inch thick onto the water in the tray and watch it float. Drop a penny into the water and watch it sink. Discuss why one floated and the other sank. Ask the children how many pennies they think could be placed onto the wood before it would sink. Begin placing pennies on top of the piece of wood, one at a time, counting how many it takes to sink the boat.

Water Experiments

(By Professor Charles Irish. Used with permission.)

Materials
  • Trays of water
  • Straws
  • Paper fans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pennies
Experiment: Floating a Boat

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of the water and ask the children to observe what happens. Carefully place one penny at a time on the piece of foil. Discuss with the children what happens (the foil will quickly sink). Take another sheet of aluminum foil and fold up the sides about ½” to form the shape of a boat. Crimp the corners to make the “boat” water tight. Carefully place the “boat” on the water and ask the children to observe what happens. Add the same number of pennies, one at a time, as was placed on the flat sheet of aluminum foil and observe what happens. Does the foil boat float or sink? Discuss what caused the different reactions.

Explanation: Folding the edges of the aluminum foil creates a shape that displaces a greater volume of water than when the foil is simply flat. When this displaced volume of water is equal to the weight of the boat, the foil boat will float.

For an animated demonstration of buoyancy, show the short video Physics Animation – Buoyant Force, produced by Trescendo, available on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KALbn7kRx_Y&feature=related.

Experiment: Making Waves

Give straws, paper fans, and a tray of water to the children. For larger groups, children can be paired up and share trays of water. Instruct the children to wave the paper fan above the water and observe what happens. Next ask them to blow air through the straw above the water and observe what happens to the water. Discuss why the water reacts the way they observed.

Explanation: Moving the air by blowing or waving the fan creates a wave by pushing the surface of the water. The water piles up and as the energy moves forward, it triggers the water next to it to do the same. The difference between the two is the intensity of the reaction. With the fan, the waves are long and not very tall. With the straw, the waves are taller and stronger. The straw concentrates the air onto the water’s surface and makes the reaction more visible.

Professional Resources

Kids Science Experiments

http://www.kids-science-experiments.com/

Simple, safe, and fun hands-on science experiments and projects using everyday materials and recycled items are provided on this site.

Featured Book

Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson.

Books to Display:

Fly High! the Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden.

The Tuskegee Airmen by Phillip Brooks.

Black and White Airmen: Their True History by John Fleischman.

Flying Machine by Andrew Nahum.

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, July 25, 1909 by Alice and Martin Provenson.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Ask questions such as these to begin a discussion about the book.

“Have you ever flown in a plane?”

“What was it like?”

“What do you know about airplanes?”

“Who made the first airplane that could really fly?” (The Wright Brothers designed the airplane that they flew in the first successful airplane flight in 1903.)

Read

Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson.

Discussion

Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What does the boy in the story jump off of in order to experience flying?”

“What does he do to get a ride on a real airplane?”

“When he grows up, what does he do?”

“How does Uncle feel about flying as an adult?”

Facts about Nonfiction Topics: Tuskegee Airmen, Airplanes, and Lift

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about these nonfiction connections.

Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee Airmen became the first African Americans who served as military pilots in the U.S. armed forces. During World War II, the United States needed soldiers to help with the war effort. African American men volunteered to fight, but they were not allowed to become pilots. Under pressure from the NAACP and other African American groups, the U. S. military finally established a training program for African Americans. The program ran from 1941 to 1946 and was housed at the Tuskegee Air Base in Tuskegee, Alabama. The nation’s first all-black squadron was the 99th Pursuit Squadron. The 332nd Fighter Group also trained at Tuskegee. They escorted bomber pilots on their bombing missions in Europe. The Tuskegee Airmen never lost a pilot that they had been assigned to escort. Show pictures of the real Tuskegee Airmen from Phillip Brooks’ Tuskegee Airmen.

Airplanes

Airplanes stay in the air because of thrust and lift. Thrust, the propulsion usually supplied by the engine, propels the plane forward. Lift, a motion supplied by the propellers or the engines, pulls the plane into the air. Air rushing past a tilted object travels faster along the top than along the bottom. The faster air creates suction and causes the object to move, or lift, upwards.

Lift

Lift is the force that is opposite from gravity. It allows airplanes to push off of the ground and fly through the air without falling. Lift is produced by a difference in air pressure. Air exerts pressure at all times in every direction. Daniel Bernoulli theorized that changes in air speed are related to changes in air pressure. This means that the slower the air moves, the greater the air pressure. Therefore, still air will exert more pressure than moving air.

Crafts

Paper Helicopters

(Adapted from Exploratorium by Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

Materials
  • Templates for paper helicopters
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips
  • Markers

Find the paper helicopter pattern at the end of this program.

Directions

In advance, copy enough helicopter templates for each child to have one. Distribute the template and cut them out along the solid-colored lines. Fold along the dotted lines to create the flaps on top of the helicopter. Fold the flap on the right side towards you and the flap on the left side away from you. Slide one paper clip onto the bottom of the helicopter. Pair up with another child and launch both helicopters at the same time. Observe and compare the flights of both helicopters considering questions like: Which is faster? Slower? Which hit the ground first? Add an additional paperclip or two. Launch both helicopters again and see how the helicopters fly differently this time.

Games and Activities

Demonstration of Lift

Materials
  • Strips of paper about 2 inches wide and 8-10 inches long
Directions

Distribute strips of paper to the children. Explain that lift can be seen by blowing on top of a strip of paper about 2 inches wide by 8-10 inches long. As air blows on top of the paper, the pressure decreases on the bottom of the strip, making the strip lift up. Blow on the paper to demonstrate.

Explanation: Bernoulli’s Principle states that the slower the air moves, the greater the air pressure will be. Alternately, the faster the air moves, the less air pressure there is. As you blow air across the top of the strip of paper, the air pressure is reduced on the top side and increased on the bottom side. The greater pressure on the bottom side of the strip of paper makes the paper rise up, or lift. This same principle makes an airplane fly. Because the top side of the airplane wing is longer than the bottom side, the air has farther to travel to reach end of the wing on the top than on the bottom. This faster moving air means there is less pressure on the top of the wing than on bottom of the wing; and with a difference in air pressure, there comes lift. When the lift force on the plane is greater than the weight of the plane, it will rise into the air. When the lift force is equal to the weight of the plane, it will fly level.

Professional Resources

Fat Lion: Kid Science

http://www.fatlion.com/science/paperairplanes.html

This site shows how to make a paper airplane to demonstrate Bernoulli’s principle.

Featured Book

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley.

Books to Display:

Digging Up Dinosaurs by Aliki.

Dinosaur by David Norman.

First Dinosaur Encyclopedia by Caroline Bingham.

Stone Girl, Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning by Laurence Anholt.

Introduction

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What is your favorite dinosaur?”

“How do we know what we know about dinosaurs?”

“What are fossils?”

“Have you seen any fossils?”

This is the story about a man who lived in the late 1800’s. Waterhouse Hawkins was fascinated by dinosaurs. He started with the fossils of their bones and his knowledge of today’s reptiles. Putting this information together, he reconstructed what he thought a dinosaur would look like.

Read

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley.

Discussion

Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What did Waterhouse love to do?”

“Do you think that he did a good job of recreating what a dinosaur might look like?”

“Do the dinosaurs he drew look like the ones we see in modern books?”

“Why do you think they look different?”

Facts about Nonfiction Topic: Dinosaurs

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.

Dinosaurs

Beginning more than 160 million years ago, dinosaurs were the predominant animal on Earth. The word dinosaur is based on the Greek words meaning terrible lizard. Because dinosaurs lived so long before humans inhabited the planet, what we know about them is gleaned from fossils and other material that was left behind. Paleontologists are people who study dinosaurs and their fossils to learn about ancient life. They make observations and form hypotheses from the fossils they can examine. For example, if they are looking at a pointed tooth they can assume that the dinosaur is a meat eater. A round tooth would indicate that the dinosaur ate plants. Find pictures of some of the popular dinosaurs in a dinosaur encyclopedia. Ask questions such as the following.

“How do we know what a dinosaur ate?”

“How can we tell how big a dinosaur was?”

“Can we tell what dinosaurs’ skin looked like?”

“Do we know if dinosaurs had feathers?”

“How might we determine what color the dinosaur was?”

Crafts

Dinosaur Wire Sculpture

(Adapted from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis by Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

Materials
  • Pictures of dinosaur skeletons
  • Pipe cleaners or bendable wire (various colors)
  • Scissors or wire cutters

Two Dinosaur Wire Sculptures

Directions

Distribute pipe cleaners or bendable wire, such as Twisteez, and pictures of dinosaur skeletons. Encourage the children to think about how the dinosaur’s bones fit together and how dinosaurs moved. Start sculpting a dinosaur skeleton using the pipe cleaners or bendable wire. Adults may need to help cut the wire. Display the dinosaurs.

Shoe Dinosaurs

Materials
  • Construction paper
  • Pencils
  • Markers and crayons
Instructions

Help each child trace the outline of a shoe on a piece of construction paper. Use the crayons or markers to add dinosaur features to the outline and decorate it. Think up a funny name for the dinosaur.

Pasta Dinosaur Fossils

(Adapted by Stacey Irish-Keffer from The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey.)

Materials
  • Pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes (elbow, linguini, ziti, shells, etc.)
  • Construction paper
  • Pictures of dinosaur skeletons
  • White glue
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Small cups or containers

Pasta Dinner Fossils

Directions

In advance locate pictures of dinosaur skeletons, and pour a small amount of the various types of pasta into small cups. Give each child or group of children a cup of pasta. Give the children pictures of dinosaur skeletons to look at. The children will lay out the pasta pieces on the construction paper to create a fossilized dinosaur skeleton. When the dinosaur skeleton is complete, they will use white glue (not glue sticks) to affix the pasta to the construction paper. After the glue dries, they will use markers or crayons to decorate the dinosaurs.

Web Sites

Dinosaurs for Kids

http://www.kidsdinos.com/

This interactive site explores dinosaur facts and provides games and other fun things for kids to do online.

Dinosaurs!

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/dinosaurs/

This site from Scholastic provides lots of facts and information about dinosaurs and offers activities such as writing about dinosaurs and an opportunity to build an online dinosaur.

Professional Resources

The Best Kids Book Site

http://www.thebestkidsbooksite.com/thisparticstory.cfm?StorytimeTopicID=57

This site offers links to a variety of dinosaur crafts, games, books, and songs.

Enchanted Learning

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/dinosaurs/anatomy/Skeleton.shtml

This site provides printable copies of dinosaur skeletons, along with other information about dinosaurs.

Twisteez

http://www.twisteez.com/

This pliable plastic-coated copper wire is ideal for crafts. The web site provides sources for ordering the wire and craft ideas.

Program Materials

Observation Deck: Stories About Science – Paper Helicopter Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (13 KB)

Paper Helicopter Pattern -one pattern on sheet



Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011