Robots, Illusions, and Speakers

When the 2nd Annual Chickering Science Fair, sponsored by the Dover PTO,  popped up on March 19, 2016, we wanted to have some information on the Science Fair. We decided to have some interviews with the people in the Science Fair; what they did and why they chose to do it.

Student Scientist Displaying A Poster About Speakers.We interviewed a few people, starting with Nevin, a 4th grader. He said “My project was explaining how a microphone and speaker work. I decided to do this project because I was on YouTube watching one of my favorite channels and saw how to make a microphone. I decided to do that and then I thought, why not make a speaker to go with it! The best part of making the project was how I felt happy and satisfied after I completed the project. The most challenging part about my project was probably getting the speaker loud enough to be heard. The next hardest part was that you had to hold the speaker against your ear to hear it. It was really hard until I attached the amplifier.”

Next, we interviewed Evan, a 4th grader and he said “My project was about optical illusions and how your brain sees and collects the information. I decided to do this project because it was the first idea that popped in my mind and I was very interested in how your brain works with your eyes and how the optical illusions just look very cool. The best part of making the project was how your eyes would see something but your brain would change it to something different. The most challenging part was when I was choosing the illusions.”

Lastly, we interviewed Elaine, a first grader, and she said “my project was about what foods animals eat. I decided to do this project because first of all, I like animals. The other reason is that I am interested in how animals eat. The best part of making the project was when I was coloring the pictures. The most challenging part was when I was finding the right color pencils to color the pictures.”

Students in grades PreK-5 presented science projects. Each student was interviewed by a science “Expert.” All the entrants designed amazing work. Even after many days, the science fair is in our memories.

Reported By Nevin & Evan Z.

The Breathtaking Boston Museum of Science

Do you know how strong air pressure can be? Well, it can shoot a wooden disk across the room by an air cannon powered entirely with four bicycle pumps! On April 13, the entire fifth grade gathered in the cafeteria to watch as a cloud was formed in an air tank, an air cannon exploded, and two students got roasted by a heating lamp. The Boston Museum of Science had come to Chickering School to give us an exciting presentation on Weather!

Introduction by Boston Museum of Science presenter.

It is amazing that you can do so much with air pressure! Casey came to our school with her tools from the Museum of Science to blow our minds. The star of the show was when Casey used a cannon to shoot a wooden puck across the room. The four lucky volunteers, or should I say workers, were Ava H., Jagger, Kelsey, and Kofi. They each got a bicycle pump,

4 white bicycle pumps for pressurizing the air tank.

and worked together to blow the cannon. After a minute or so the loud blast surprised everyone. Following the experiment, she explained the science behind it. When all the participants pumped the pumps, it pressurized the air. When there was no more space left in the chamber, the puck flew across the room.

One exciting demonstration was experimenting on the subject of albedo, which is the amount of the Sun’s energy that is reflected off Earth and back into space. The two students who had been chosen to be volunteers were asked to put thick, black fleece coats and safety goggles on. Then, theater lamps were switched on in front of them. The participants were hooked up to a thermometer which showed both of their temperatures and also a graph of their thermal readings. Then Casey explained how light is absorbed more by black than by white, which was why the volunteers’ temperatures were steadily getting higher. Suddenly, though, Casey draped a white smock over one student and the audience noted how his temperature stopped increasing and stayed the same, while the other pupil’s temperature kept going higher on the chart. It was noted that white reflects the light and black absorbs it, which is mostly why many people wear light, rather than dark, colors in the summer.

One of them most interesting activities, however, was when Casey heated up, in separate tubes, water and dirt. Then she wired them so that the temperature was shown, on the projector, of the water and dirt. As the temperatures rose, the spectators noticed that the dirt warmed up faster than the water. Suddenly, Casey turned the heater off. The temperatures suddenly dropped, but the water decreased much slower than the dirt. Casey explained to us that the result of the experiment was that water heats up and cools down much slower than land does. She made it clear that since land has more closely packed molecules than liquid, it warms and cools faster than water.

After this experiment, Casey explained to us the water cycle. The first stage was evaporation, which is when the water changes into water vapor as a result of the Sun’s energy. Then, condensation takes place, which is when a bunch of water vapor gathers and turns back into water droplets. Next, when the cloud gets too heavy, the water droplets fall down onto the Earth as precipitation. Finally, water/groundwater collection is when the water is collected back into another body of water.
One of the last experiments Casey performed was a cloud in a tank! She took a spray bottle of water, sprayed in the tank with it to simulate the evaporation in a tank, lit a match and put it in the tank for the smoke, closed the tank and pressurized the tank with an electronic fan and opened the top to let out the fluffy creation. Next, she had a big, blow-up earthBoston Museum of Science presenter gesturing to globe with thermal paper on it.

and used a special heating light to simulate the seasons with thermal patches on the globe that changed colors.

Illuminated globe simulating different seasons.

In all, we believe that this was a great learning experience for all the students and staff. Casey’s thorough explanations and presentation were clear and informative and every experiment left us astonished. From heat to the water cycle, we are now prepared for every weather-related thing blown our way!

Reported by: Abby, Anissa, and Charlie T.

Super Science Units!

In 5th grade there are 5 classroom teachers. They all teach one science unit to all 5th grade students. Every seven weeks, students begin a different science unit in the following topics: Energy; Earth and Space; Life Science: Adaptations, Food Webs, Genetics; Meteorology; and Engineering. We were curious to know if the teachers and the students had the same favorite activity within the science units.

We interviewed each of the 5th grade teachers and asked them to explain their science unit.

ENERGY: In energy, kids continue what they learned in 4th grade. They learn about potential and kinetic energy and review magnets. The students also  make circuits, light lightbulbs, test conductors and insulators.

ENGINEERING: In engineering the first project is to make a table made of newspaper, which has to hold lots of books. Introduces Newton’s 3 laws of motion. 2nd project is to make a balloon powered car; the one that goes the furthest wins. Other engineering tasks are to make a catapult and a pasta tower.

LIFE CYCLES: In life science students learn about animals, insects  and their biomes, food chains and predator/prey.

SPACE:In Earth and Space science students learn about phases of the Moon, our solar system and earth relationship and the forces of the Earth, how it rotates and spines around the Sun.

WEATHER: In weather, students learn the difference between the climate and weather, weather forecasting, storms and how to stay safe, and water cycle and how it works and causes weather.

Did the teachers have a favorite activity? Mrs. Chiavarini  teaches Energy and her students can experiment and try out new ideas. Her favorite activity is the final project where students draw and design a Rube Goldberg machine incorporating different types of energy.

Mr. Wadness teaches Engineering and his favorite activity is to teach about the 3 Laws of Physics by Isaac Newton. These laws state:
1. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
2. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.
3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

He likes to see how the students use one or more of these laws in their problem solving for their project.

Mrs. McLaughlin, who teaches Life Science, explained her favorite activities are owl pellet dissection lab which demonstrates the special adaptations of an owl. As well as, their final project to show animal adaptations and themselves.

Mr. Keohane teaches Earth and Space Science. In his unit, he enjoys when they go outside and create a scale model of the Solar System with his classes.

Weather is taught by Mrs. Power, who loves when the students create a visual or act out the water cycles. She likes seeing the students’ understanding of the water cycle when the water falls on the ground or in the ocean or lake.

The following chart shows the results of Survey I conducted in January, displaying the 5th grade students’ s favorite science unit. In January, students have only rotated through three of the five units.

PIe graph displaying favorite science units in January 2016.Key for Pie Chart showing science units.







The chart, below, shows the results of Survey II showing students’ favorite science unit. The major difference between the two charts is this one has no Energy selected and includes Space data.  At this point, students are in the middle of their 5th science unit.

Pie chart showing students' favorite science units in April 2016.







We wondered what the students’ favorite activity, within their preferred science unit. The first time we did a student survey was in January; students’ had only completed 3 of 5 science units. The second time we did the survey was March; all students were in their 5th science unit. We were surprised by how much the data had changed.

In both surveys, there was one response for Weather and the activity was “making the snow because it was very fun.” Engineering received 50% in January and 42.9% in March, clearly this is the most popular. One student commented, “The reason I like this unit is because we get to do lots of hands on types of projects and no work sheets yet,” They really liked making catapults, balloon cars and newspaper tables.

Life science, stayed the same in both surveys, receiving 21.4%. One of the respondents said, “I enjoyed presenting our posters, we got to learn about a few individual animals than just some adaptations in general. Another thing I enjoyed about that science unit was when Mrs. Mclaughlin plays the Mr. Parr songs, my favorite was the one about adaptations, his songs are so catchy and make you want to sing along, I still listen to some of them today! So Mrs. Mclaughlin’s unit was my favorite.”

In the 1st survey, Space was not chosen as a favorite science unit, though in the 2nd survey it received a quarter of the votes! Energy acquired 21.4% in the first survey and did not obtain any votes in the second survey. We are not sure why there was such a big change for space and science units, it would take further investigation. Clearly the science units that had a lot of hands-on activities were the favorite!

Reported by Luke B. and Felix