Observation and Manipulation of LEGOs

Today in Robotics we worked on the learning target “I can use observation and manipulation to determine various properties of LEGO pieces.”

I had the students look at and play with the black and grey pins, and also gave them two beams.  I did not give them any other directions other than they had 5 minutes to observe and manipulate, then 3 minutes to write down their observations.  Here’s a sample of their observations, I’ll make comments at the bottom:



After the students generated ideas like: loose, tight, smooth, stuck, harder to turn, swing freely, etc I told them to write the word friction down.  Then they were told to circle the word and draw a line from friction to the color pin they thought had more friction.  Most got it correct first time but for those who didn’t I added a definition of friction and once they tied that definition to their play with the pins they were all able to get it.



It was really interesting to me during this lesson and the next one (see LEGO Measurement) to see how differently the kids organized their thinking.  Some wrote long hand notes, some drew T charts, some Venn Diagrams.  I’m not sure if there was a best type to use, but I think it’s great that they had all these methods at their disposal (credit and props to Bethel elementary schools).  What I think was important is that they were able to organize their own though process by having the LEGOs right there and then being able to write about them in front of them.  

Ideally I would love every kid to have a Smart Phone with an app like Evernote so they could take a picture like I did and be done with it.  Until that happens, I had them go back to their computers and finish the following statement:

After observing and manipulating the two different pins, we noticed the black one had more friction, this means…

They had to finish this statement as part of their exit ticket.  This allowed them to use the new word friction, but still write about it in a way they understood. 



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