Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Experimenting With Angles and Moving Objects

The other day the kids made up a racing game with the cars, some cardboard tubes and some plastic tracks. As they worked together and separately they experimented with shooting the cars down the tubes from various angles. They seemed especially interested in getting the most cumbersome tubes to rest on the top of the sandbox seats, then they would climb up on the seats to peer down the tubes as they sent the cars careening down the tubes. This game went on for quite some time and the tracks took on many different shapes throughout the course of their experiments.

The children took joy in discovering how to extend the tubes, add other pieces to the tracks or change the look of the tracks by stacking closed tubes on top of open tracks. They also set up little cross roads by setting smaller tubes across the tops of larger tubes. 


Noticing their interest in the plastic tracks and cars, I decided to pull the remainder of our tubes out and give them a scrub so we would have more tracks to work with in the upcoming days. The children love all sorts of washing projects so we ended up with a crowd of boys who wanted to help wash the tracks. As they cleaned the tracks they discovered that they could make little chutes to direct the water off the end of the table. I wondered aloud if he could they could find a way to use the chutes to fill a bucket with warm soapy water. They got to work experimenting with positioning a bucket under the chute - it took several tries but eventually they got it. 

After working with the bucket one of my little guys seemed interested in finding a way to extend the track by positioning some tracks next to each other. The tracks didn’t stay together very well and we were running out of time for the activity so we decided we would take a look at how we could make longer tracks another time.


For our third investigation of angles, tracks and extending tracks I set up this waterworks station:

The crates serve as the highest point, then the largest rain gutter extends over the water bin and that runs down into a third level - the water table. I also added this little work table and a step stool for the children to climb up on so that they could see the highest level of the waterworks. They really enjoyed the challenge of climbing up to the highest level without spilling their water! 

We also had this little water bottle set up on the side for the children to practice filling their cups as they waited for a turn to climb or work in the most coveted spaces around the table. 

Some of the things we noticed while working: 
A watches as the corks are carried down the track and over the edge to the sensory bin below. While she works, the track slips and is positioned so that it forms a bridge rather than a downward slope. A looks confused so she moves it back and forth for a bit until she thinks she has fixed it. She tests the track again but the water does not move as quickly so she goes to the end and dumps a larger amount of water off the edge of the track. After watching her work I asked her “What do you think would happen if you moved the track up a little higher?” She moved the track up to the highest point so that it created a dramatic downward slope and the water / corks moved very quickly to the bottom bin. All of the other children came to see her track. 

While working at the water table S watches his corks move down the track and off the table. He repeats the process several times and as he works his track moves so that the downward slope of the track moves in the opposite direction. He dumps a cup of water onto the track and all of his corks go down the slope into the sensory bin. S notices the movement in the opposite direction and says “Hey! they’re going the wrong way.” Then he continues to dump water on the tracks and watch the corks move in the opposite direction.

Our youngest waterworks participant was primarily concerned with filling / dumping cups of water then watching it run off the end of the rain gutter into his cup. He also put several corks on top of the crates and dumped cups of water over the corks until the flow pushed the corks through the crate holes into the stack of crates. Then he peered through the holes to see where they went.

While working with the water spigot some of the newer children were having trouble figuring out how to get the water out. The children who had more experience with the tricky spigot helped figure out how to position the container just right so that water would come out. As they worked together on the project the other children were patient with the child who was trying to figure out how to get it to work, then they all took joy in his success when he finally accomplished his goal. 

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