Content of Elementary Science: Topic #1

Topic #1: Size and Mass

Activity #1: Metric Measurement (August 30, 2017)

In this activity, we practiced measuring different objects with a ruler. The purpose was to teach students how to use a ruler and to familiarize them with the units associated with different objects. For example, we measured the length of our pencil, length of our hand, and the thickness of our pinkie finger, all in centimeters. We also measured our height in inches and converted it into centimeters. This would be a useful exercise for upper elementary students in terms of helping them understand how to convert British standard units (inches) to Metric standard units (centimeters).

Measuring width of pinkie finger (in centimeters)
Measuring length of pencil (in centimeters)

I would introduce this to my students by putting them into groups and making it an interactive activity. Paper clips could be given to the lower elementary students, whereas, rulers could be given to the upper elementary students. I would then give them a range of objects, such as toy cars, crayons, combs, etc. to measure. They might also measure their arms, hands, and fingers to better understand how the measurements are related and how they can estimate using a measurement they already know.

Students may have difficulty understanding the difference between units and how to properly convert them. They may also have trouble knowing where on the ruler and on the object to start measuring. It is important to understand that students work at different paces, so differentiation would be a change that would allow the students to better understand the material. It would be beneficial to pair the students who understand the material with those who don’t understand as much in order to ensure everyone in the class is comprehending the content.

Activity #2: Volume Measurement (August 30, 2017)

During this activity, we measured the length of wooden blocks using a ruler and then measured the volume of a big plastic cube by putting the rows of blocks inside. The overall purpose of this activity was to exhibit how two objects can have different shapes and have the same volume. The part of the activity that allowed us to understand how two different shaped objects can have the same volume was when we filled a graduated cylinder with one liter of water and had a group member pour the water into the big plastic cube. The water filled up perfectly to the top of the cube, proving that both containers were equal to one liter.

Big plastic cube filled with 125 wooden blocks (1,000 mL or 1,000 cubic centimeters)
Big plastic cube filled with 1,000 mL (or 1 L) of water

I would introduce this to my class by putting them into groups and using the same materials as we used in this activity in order to provide a hands-on learning experience. Allowing the students to use blocks to understand how shape and volume are related gives them a more visual example, which they could then use in a similar activity in the future. I would also include the part where they pour the water from one container to another. The students could use different containers and make a hypothesis about whether or not they think the two containers hold the same volume.

Students may have difficulty understanding that containers with completely different shapes can hold the same amount of material. This can be made easier by using several different types of containers as mentioned above and providing them with firsthand examples of why this works.