Experiencing Engineering



Engineering is one of many science units taught in our school. Mr. Wadness, a 5th grade teacher, teaches the Design Process, that we use to create the projects he assigns. We hope you enjoy our talk with Mr. Wadness.

reported by Emma, Tim, and Evan

Geothermal, Potential, Kinetic Energy… and More

Chickering Student Radio

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5th graders at Chickering School have a new science unit this year. It is called ‘Energy”. We investigated to find out what Mrs. Chiavarini and some of her students thought about this unit of science.

Happy listening!


Reported By: Amanda and Esme

Under the Sea

Image of a bottlenose dolphinWhat has fifty football field-long tentacles, pink, glows, and lives in the ocean? It’s a . . . siphonophore! One of the largest, unique, interesting creatures in the sea. One of many extraordinary animals we will be learning about in our Oceanography science unit.

We wondered why we study Oceanography so we had a conversation with Mr. Keohane, our science teacher. He explained that oceans are important to all life on Earth. Oceans need to be protected because they are a valuable resource for life.Image of harp seals

“Ooh! It’s so scary!” and “Look at this … it’s the craziest creature you have ever seen!” Are exclamations Mr. Keohane hears while his students begin researching their sea creature science project. Students are amazed by the adaptations made by the creatures from the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean.

Image of a sea otterWe were curious  to know how long Mr. Keohane has been teaching Oceanography and if the unit was assigned. He shared with us that he has been teaching Oceanography for 5 years and that he inherited the unit from the teacher for whom he took over. When he taught 3rd grade, the science topic was the Solar System. We were interested to know, if he could pick any science unit, what would it be. He stated he would like to teach engineering because he loves to build things. But he also loves Oceanography, too.

Do you have a favorite creature which relies on the ocean for its survival?Image of a hammerhead shark We got to choose and research our favorite creature that depends on the ocean. From Clownfish to Manatees, Mr. Keohane let each student use a number-assigned laptop and let us research our wonderful animals along with their habitats, adaptations, and other fun facts. Then the students would go and type their reports using the information they gathered from various websites about predators, how humans impact the creatures life, diet, and the effects of climate change. It was a blast to learn all about the incredible creatures which do live in and/or rely on the sea!

Reported by:  Katana, Olivia, Cyrus, and Zach


harp seal
Apter, Elaine. seal070.jpg. 12/25/1995. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>.
bottlenose dolphin
Folks, Tami. dolphin5.jpg. March 2004. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>
sea otter
Smith, Lucine. otter12.jpg. June 2007. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>
hammerhead shark
“Hammerhead Sharks.” PowerKnowledge Life Science. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.pklifescience.com/article/213/hammerhead-sharks>

Crime Scene Investigation

We gasped when we saw the computer lab door covered in yellow caution tape! We wondered what was wrong. Our teacher told us that we will be using the forensic skills that we learned over the last two weeks to solve a crime which occurred in the computer lab.

One of the first skills we learned was to read fingerprints. Did you know that there are four types of fingerprints and no two are the same, like snowflakes? Arch, Loop, Whorl and Composite. We fingerprinted ourselves and analyzed the prints to determine the type.

Next, we practiced observation skills by examining items and identifying how they were the same or different. In groups we were assigned a physical quality, such as, pointy, green, or light-weight. Our assignment was to find and collect objects outside, with that particular attribute. Each group displayed their items. We rotated around to each groups’ objects and tried to identify the characteristic of each set of items. These activities help us become much more observant; a skill needed by forensic scientists.

Fifth grade students analyzing DNA.The crime: a quarter eaten ice cream sandwich. Who took the bite? Well, Mrs. Power’s class was on the job! We separated into groups. We knew the suspects were the 5th grade teachers and assistants. There were many stations of evidence to examine such as… lip prints, hair traces, fingerprints and handwriting samples. Each student had a choice of which area to embark on, but each student worked at all of the stations in the end. Every kid in the class had a sheet to fill out with who they thought the culprit was and the reasons. The evidence revealed that the culprit was … drum roll … Mrs. Angelus!

It was surprising to learn forensic scientists help solve cases which include theft, larson (fire), counterfeit, forgery, robbery and abduction. We had the opportunity to work with an individual who teaches Forensic Science. We spoke with Katie, a staff member at Lincoln Labs, who came to Chickering School to work with students in the science of forensics. Katie said that the average amount of crimes a scientist works on a month is about 2 to 3. The most enthralling assignments, according to Katie, were the ones involving abducted people or stolen items. “You see the person that you’re helping or saving,” said Katie.

She thinks the hardest crimes are the ones when you don’t have much evidence, when people are hiding the evidence or when the evidence is contaminated. It may even take years to find all the evidence. It is also frustrating when you don’t know the motive or why, even if you solve the crime. Katie said that being able to solve the puzzle is why people work night and day non-stop to find the solution. Katie hopes that at least one student will be inspired to be a forensic scientist or a C.S.I. agent.

We thought this science unit was fun, interesting and educational because we learned the scientific method by using it to solve a crime, even if it was a fake one.

Reported by Stephen and Marley

CSI: Who dunit?

Are you a suspect? Did you steal the golden apple bell?

Sadly, the golden bell that Mrs. Power earned for being a teacher for 15 years was stolen. What we found at the crime scene was a ransom note, a hair sample, plus a hair clip. We sprang right into action! The fifth grade CSI investigation had just begun!

What was stolen? The bell is used by Mrs. Power to quiet her class down when they get too noisy. She is very upset that it’s missing.

Who are the suspects? We were assigned teachers to interview.  We asked “Were you a teacher here for 15 years? “Were you at Open House?” and “Were you in Mrs. Power’s room during Open House?” Since the teachers were all around the Two microscopes in the science lab used in the CSI investigation.school, we went to meet them face-to-face. People who lie, tend to not look you in the eye or they stop talking; These are some ways to figure out if they are telling the truth. Based upon their answers and their behavior during the interview, we asked if we could borrow the suspect’s black pen or marker. Using the note left at the crime scene, we compared the pen or marker from each suspect.

Finally, we found out who did it! From our pen/note comparison, we narrowed it down to three suspects: Ms Varley, Ms Wood, and Mrs. Anzivino. We cut up the note and gave everybody a piece of the ransom note, then we took the pen we borrowed and we made a dot on a coffee filter. We put water on all the dots and the cut-up note. You would not believe whose dot matched the note! It was Ms.Varley!  With some additional clues, we figured that Ms Varley gave the stolen bell to Mrs. Anzivino. They were both guilty!

So it turns out we got our bell back, and we all got back to our normal lives. Moral: “Crime doesn’t pay!”

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Reported by Grace, Garrett, Carter, and Louis

Skimmer Regatta

The latest 5th grade science unit is Force and Motion. To assist the students in understanding this science unit, the students, in groups, are designing fronts .and backs of skimmers plus sail designs.  A skimmer is a rectangular shape made from folder paper.  You must have these attributes:

Skimmer Regatta Trophy

Skimmer Regatta Trophy

.  a sail
.  a front at least 9 centemeters out and
.  a back  optional.
Next, we put our skimmer through several tests where we test each design feature separately:
1. We test the airflow by using either long bursts of air or short bursts of air, either to the inside front or to the outside back of the skimmer only.
2. We test the surface [lubricant] that we want our skimmer to glide across. The reason we do this is to see which one creates the most drag and to eliminate that one. The one that creates the least amount of friction we will use. The surfaces [lubricants] that we can choose from include wax paper, aluminum foil, and release aluminum foil.
3. We design two fronts and two backs. We tested them all on the chosen lubricant (a lubricant is a way to reduce the amount of friction generated when a material rubs against another material).
4. Then, we take each of our successful design attributes and add them, test them together, adjusting where needed; making a unique skimmer.
5. We have a class race to see who’s skimmer is the best.
6.  Finally, all grade 5 classrooms get together to do a regatta to see overall, in the grade, whose skimmer travels the farthest distance.
This year we designed and created a trophy to be given to the winner of the regatta.
The grade level regatta took place on 3/30/10.  The 5 classroom teams had 3 trials each.  We averaged the times of the 3 trials for each classroom.  The two classrooms with the highest average moved on to the final regatta.  The two classrooms were Ms Varley’s and Mrs. Chiavarini’s.  The winner of the grade level Skimmer Regatta was . . . MRS. CHIAVARINI’S CLASS!!!!!

Reported by: Annie, Alice, Julia, and Jacquelyn