Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Matter & Molecules

During the past week have investigated molecular motion. We have learned that the matter in all 4 states 9 solids, liquids, gases, and plasma - move, and that there is space between molecules. The molecules of a solid vibrate in place while the molecules of liquids and gases have the ability to slide past one another, thus allowing them to take the shape of the container they are in.

We used a water balloon and a rocket balloon to show this. The students also role played the parts the molecules of solids, liquids, and gases to help them gain a better understanding of these 2 concepts.

I addition, saw that matter expands when heated and contracts when heat (thermal) energy is taken away, or cooled. The students acted this out, too. We did the Ball & Ring demo to show that a solid expands when heated and contracts when cooled.

We used "Mood Balls" to demonstrate that liquids and gases expand and contract, too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bird of the Week - XV

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the House finch. The House finch is a bright red and brown-striped bird of the cities and suburbs. The House Finch comes readily to feeders. It also breeds in close association with people, and often chooses a hanging plant in which to put its nest.

The House finch is a medium-sized finch, about 5 - 6 inches long with a wingspan of about 8 - 10 inches. The male is bright red on it's head, chest, and rump and the female is brown and striped. It has a short, thick bill that is rounded on the top edge. It has two, thin, white wing bars. The House finch can easily be confused with the less common, but similar looking Purple finch.  Click here for an article about telling the 2 species apart.

The House Finch was originally a bird of the southwestern United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, and they quickly started breeding. They spread across the entire eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years. In the early 1990's, the House finch population was greatly reduced due to an avian (bird) form of conjunctivitis.
The House finch forages (feeds) in small flocks, usually in trees, but often on ground and uses bird feeders extensively. It will eat buds, seeds, and fruits.
Photos from All About Birds.

Monday, December 14, 2009


We have begun a new unit. We will be investigating Matter and how Heat (Thermal) energy affects matter. We began by seeing if air was matter. Our working definition of matter is anything that has weight and takes up space.

We had a contest called the Flask race to see who could fill the Erlenmeyer flask to the 200ml mark the first. On my command, the 2 students poured the water and 1 flask quickly filled. The other flask appeared stuck, with little or no water going into it. We repeated this several times until the kids caught on that I had notched one of the stoppers so that the displaced air could escape and the water could go into the flask. The flask without a notch didn't permit any air to escape, thus the forces were balanced and the water couldn't get into the flask. This showed that air takes up space.

We next weighed a balloon to show that air has weight.

Bird of the Week - XlV

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Cooper's hawk.  As the backyard bird feeding season gets underway, be on the outlook for this fleet hawk dashing into your feeding station and grabbing a bird for a meal! The Cooper's hawk is a medium sized hawk with rounded wings and a long tail. Adults are steely blue-gray above with warm reddish bars on the underparts and thick dark bands on the tail. Juveniles are brown above and crisply streaked with brown on the upper breast. Cooper's hawk and Sharp-shinned hawks can be difficult to tell apart. Here is an article that points out the differences between the two hawks.

The Cooper's hawk rarely flaps its' wings continuously when flying, but rather flies with a flap - flap - glide pattern.

Cooper's hawks frequent wooded habitats from deep forests to leafy subdivisions and backyards. They use their long tail like a rudder so that they can maneur quickly through trees, bushes, etc. in pursuit of its prey - small birds. An attack maneuver they will sometimes use is to fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side.
First photo from:
Second photo from All About Birds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Challenger Learning center Field Trip

Yesterday, 70 students went to the Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center on the campus of Framingham State College.

This simulated flight to Mars was the culmination of work the students did in five after school sessions with Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Williams.

The after school sessions focused on space science, team work, problem solving, and communication.