Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hook, Line, and Sinker: A Unit On Electricity

I'm going to try something slightly different in this post. It's the first in a series that I unoriginally call "Hook, Line, and Sinker." The premise, which I literally made up 30 seconds ago is this. I'll show a unit of study by illustrating three parts:
1) The initial "hook, that is what will get kids excited about the unit.
2) The "line", which is, I don't know...  maybe what I want everyone to get out of the lesson. Let's call this the essential questions/enduring understandings portion.
3) Finally I can include a "sinker", which is an extension of the unit that allows students to "go deeper" in their exploration of the subject.

Hmmmm.... I'm sure this has been thought of a million times over before. But not by me! Let's try it and see how it shakes out.

Today I started teaching "Electricity" in science. Here is my hook, line, and sinker for this unit.

The Hook
To be fair, the perfect hook for this unit would be to drive out to my grandparents' farm in rural Kansas, and drop off my students in front of the electrified cow fence with varying sizes and girths of wooden sticks. That's how I first experimented with electricity. And it taught me that so-called insulators like wood and internal organs are actual partial conductors.
 And throwing a stick at this bad boy does not actually demonstrate if it's electric or not.

But in absence of a farm and an instinct that borders on gross negligence, this is the next best hook I have. It's from the Annenburg Learner videos- that great series that looks like it was filmed in the 1950s, yet still has a lot of hidden gems.

The hook is not just the video of course. It's the video and a bulb and a battery and a wire.
In other words, once we watch the video, we try it ourselves. And if we can figure out one way to do it, there are three other ways we can do it! It's an awesome hook, and the kids become instantly curious and frustrated and in love with electricity.

The Line
There are a lot of essential questions for electricity which rises exponentially when we throw magnetism into the mix. But leaving magnetism out for the moment, there are two questions that are sufficient enough to sustain an entire unit: How does electricity flow? and What is a circuit?

The Sinker
After constructing series and parallel circuits with various batteries bulbs and dough, we can do it all over again with various batteries, bulbs, and dough. Squishy circuits expand are definition of what a circuit is and how electricity flows.
Squishy circuits are amazing. Last year I gave one of my students the recipe for the different doughs to see what he could make. He based his science fair project on it. I'll look for the photos I took and add them later.

So how did that work? Should I continue with this series? Let me know.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...