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

Digging Into Rocks and Minerals

Image of a blue geode with a small, smooth blue gem.Rocks and Minerals come in all different colors and are found all around the world, but the most interesting rocks and minerals are found in Mrs. McLaughlin’s classroom, at Chickering School. When we went behind the scenes of rocks and minerals we learned it was more than just rocks and minerals by getting all the answers from Mrs. McLaughlin, our science teacher.

All the science units are about seven weeks long or 14 lessons. Fourth grade students meet two times a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:45am, for science class.

Mrs. McLaughlin was a science major in college and her favorite subject was Rocks and Minerals. She took a course and studied a lot! She started thinking about being a teacher. She found a job at Chickering Elementary School in Dover, and she choose to be the science teacher for Rocks and Minerals. Being excited, she reviewed the content for the new science unit.

Geology is also taught in 7th grade at the Middle School. The large, white rock, with multiple, tiny holesRocks and Minerals unit leads easily into the study of Geology. Since the Earth is always changing, there are always new things to learn about rocks and minerals.

She loves how the students work together and share their observations. Pupils are very lucky to observe Rocks and Minerals close up and see all the cool colors, shapes and other exciting characteristics about Rocks and Minerals. Mrs. McLaughlin is waiting for the kids to become Geologists. She hopes children love rocks and minerals just as much as she does.

Mrs. McLaughlin does not find it hard to teach the unit. She actually sometimes thinks that she has to stop herself from teaching too much! Plus, her students already come in with a lot of knowledge of Rocks and Minerals that has made it even easier for her to teach the unit.

Bumpy rock with little, smooth rocks stuck to it. Also two smooth, shiny minerals.There are always new things to learn and discover with Rocks and Minerals. The best teacher for digging into Rocks and Minerals is Mrs. McLaughlin.  Lets dig into rocks and minerals!




Reported by Abby, Bethany, and Ryan

The Daring Dinoman

Is that Dinosaur poop? It sure is. That was only one of the many dinosaur fossils that the Dinoman showed the Chickering second graders this year. His purpose for coming was to encourage children who don’t like science to enjoy it. A flashback on the past was a great experience for us fifth graders so we hope you enjoy our feedback from this very entertaining presentation.

Going back to this dinosaur presentation all the way back to 2nd grade created some memories for us. The Dinoman brought four enormous, detailed blowup dinosaurs. Each dinosaur was different in its own special way. One of the dinosaurs allowed you to go inside of it. Inside the dinosaur the Dinoman showed us many fossils. Including a bug stuck in amber, dinosaur horn, and of course the fan favorite the dinosaur poop!Picture of Bob the Dinoman talking with grade two children.

We interviewed the Dinoman after his last presentation. The first question that we addressed to him was how long have you been doing this dinosaur presentation in Chickering? He responded saying he has been doing it for 11 years in row! The next question we asked the Dinoman was how long have been interested in dinosaurs and teaching kids about them? He answered with the response that he had found a dinosaur fossil at the age of 11! He has been interested ever since. Then we asked him what is your favorite part of the presentation? He replied telling us that he enjoys teaching kids who don’t like science to enjoy it. Another question that we asked was do you only teach second grade or do you teach other grades? He said that he teaches mostly second grade and that they are very focused on dinosaurs. Our last question that we asked him was what is your favorite dinosaur and why? He answered saying that his favorite dinosaur was the triceratops because  it is so easy to dig up. Also because it weighs a lot but its bones are super tough. That is what happened during our interview with the Dinoman.

The presentation of the Dinoman was interesting and entertaining. We had a lot of fun seeing this presentation again. It is a great experience to see what the Dinoman has to say and share so we hope you enjoyed our information about such a wonderful presentation.

Reported by:  Diana, Julia, Caroline, and Emily

Elementary Engineers

Simple Machines! Technology! Structures! What do all these words have in common? They’re all types of innovations, which use engineering. defines engineering as “the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry, as in the construction of engines, bridges, buildings, mines, ships, and chemical plants.”

Engineering is one of the fourth grade science units. We began this unit with a mystery. Groups of students were given bags with different items inside. Each bag had several different items. Students were asked to reach in and identify an object inside the bag, without looking at it. Once the object was identified, the item was removed from the bag and the group determined the technology and the problem it solved. For example; an item might be a small plastic pencil sharpener. The technology is a wedge and a screw; the problem it solves is to sharpen the lead of a pencil.

There are many different kinds of bridges in the world. We learned about some types such as, suspension, beam, deep beam, and arch bridges. In groups of 3-4 students, we worked on building one of these forms of bridges or combinations of bridges. Each group had the following materials: popsicle sticks, straws, string, paper, masking tape, and 6 large books. After the bridge was built, we had to Testing the Arch Bridge for strength.test the bridge for strength, weight and weather. To test for strength, we tried to drive a toy car back and forth across the bridge three times. Washers and bolts were used to test the weight the bridge would hold; the expectation was that the bridge should hold 24 washers and 8 bolts. The final test given to each bridge was a simulation of an earthquake by shaking the bridge. 5 of the 6 groups were successful with their bridge construction.

We finished the unit by experimenting with simple machines, such as hammers, drills, screws, and screwdrivers. Following this we had to take a written exam.

Mrs. Wasik returned to Chickering School this year from a leave of absence. Prior to her leave she taught the Oceanography Science Unit in fourth grade. This year she is teaching the Engineering Science Unit. We were curious as to which unit she liked better. In Oceanography, she loved learning about the adaptations of different sea creatures. She discovered that technology is not just computers but “could be anything that solves a problem, such as a chair”. After she taught the Engineering Unit for the first time, she has decided she likes both equally.

We asked her what she wanted the students to learn about engineering. She wants everybody to know that technology is anything that solves a problem and that engineers both design and improve technology. Another question was what are all the fourth grade science units. The science units are: Plants, Sound and Light, Oceanography, Rocks and Minerals, and Engineering as determined by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

We wondered how she thought the students did collaborating together building their bridges. She said the students learned to listen to each other, to share ideas, and to encourage everyone to participate in the group. As the unit continued, Mrs. Wasik felt that the students improved more and more as they learned to work together.

If you like working in groups and using your hands to build things then this 4th grade science unit is for you!

Reported by: George, Marley, and Sophie

Fourth Graders “Dig” Rocks and Minerals

Fourth graders rock and roll in Mrs.McLaughlin’s class.  Recently students in Mrs. McLaughlin’s science class chose a mineral to research, they designed a poster, and presented to the class. The poster included a 2-4 paragraph essay about their mineral, a glossary of the properties of the mineral included in the essay, and 4 or more photographs. 

Students learned how minerals are used in the world. For instance, hematite ash is poisonous, magnetic, used in  jewlery, and supplies most of the world’s iron.  The students learned about the tests which geologists use to identify rocks and minerals. These tests are:

  • luster
  • light transmissity
  • magnetism
  • streak color, and
  • observations.

Mrs. McLaughlin wanted the fourth graders to know how to work independently, how to research and to teach other students about their mineral.

As you can see, fourth graders rock!


Reported by: Katie, Maggie, Laura, Melanie, and Josie