Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LINX Design Engineering Project

We have begun a Design Engineering project whereby the students, working in teams of three, will design, build, and test, a wooden vehicle powered by wind (a fan).  Here are some photos of them in the design phase.

Wind Power Vehicle Challenge!

I. Problem: Design and build an efficient wind powered vehicle that will:
A. Travel 8 M within 12 seconds.
B. It must do this two times in a row.
C. The base has an area no greater than 200 square centimeters.
You will be provided with a specific amount and type of sail material.
After your vehicle has been built and tested, you will be allowed to test different variables, one at a time, to see how they affect the performance of your vehicle. I will help you in determining what some of these new variables may be.

2. Research: You and your partner should do some research before you begin the design phase of this project. Discuss what design might best help you to accomplish the task. You may consult references if you want. Read the packet of information I provided you with. All designs will be done in class.

3. Hypothesis: Your hypothesis will be your design of your vehicle. Use the attached sheet to draw your design on.

4. Experiment:
A. materials
B. Procedures

5. Observation:
Quantitative results: Construct a neat, easy-to-read data chart. What information does this data chart have to have? How many trials are necessary for reliable results?
Qualitative results: Here is where you write what you observed during the project.

6. Conclusion: You must answer all of these questions. You may weave the answers into paragraph form if you’d like.
1. What were the constants, or controls, in this project?
2. What problems did you have during this project? How did you overcome them?
3. What was the variable in this project?
4. Did your vehicle travel the 8m course without hitting the walls? If not, why?
5. What might you have done differently, or better, in this challenge?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bird of the Week - XXVll

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the American robin. The Robin is the first true sign of spring for many people. The American Robin is a familiar sight pulling up worms on suburban lawns. The Robin is a large thrush with gray back and wings and red underparts. It has a dark head with white eye crescents (marks above and below the eye). The males and females look alike with the female paler, especially on the head.

The American Robin eats both fruit and invertebrates. Earthworms are important during the breeding season, but fruit is the main diet during winter. Robins eat different types of food depending on the time of day; they eat earthworms early in the day and more fruit later in the day. Because the robin forages (eats) largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution. Robins will occasionally winter over here in Reading, surviving on berries.

In early spring, Robins can often be seen a big flocks in grassy fields feeding.
Robins have adapted very well to human-modified habitats. I bet you have seen and heard Robins in your yard, and maybe even have found a Robin nesting in a bush or shrub in your yard. Robins mate in the spring from April through July and may have as many as three broods (families). Their loud, musical, whistled song sounds like, "cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up."
Photos from All About Birds.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Average Speed

Last week we spent some time figuring out Average Speed. We learned that you needed to know the distance traveled and the amount of time it took to travel that distance to figure out the average time. We used the formual Speed = Distance/Time
We did numerous board problems and then we figured out our average walking speed. We set up a 200 foot long course in the corridor to do so.

Finding Average Speed

To find the average speed of an object, you need to know the distance the object traveled and the time it took it to travel that distance. Then you divide the distance by the time. Round off your answer to the nearest0.1 The label will be expressed as distance units per time units, ie., m/sec., miles per hour (MPH), ft./sec., Km/hr.

To help you understand this, you will find out your average walking speed in feet per second (ft./sec.). We will do this in the corridor. Like any good science student, we will do multiple trials. Use the date chart below. Label everything!

Trial 1 Distance Time____________
Trial 2 Distance Time____________
Trial 3 Distance Time____________
Time (Average) ______________

Average Speed = Distance _______ divided by Time ________ = __________


Signs of Spring Calendar for Late March

Here is a "Signs of Spring" Calendar for Late March that I have put together.

3rd Week

Chipmunks emerge from underground winter sleep.
• March 20th – Vernal Equinox. The first day of spring. Day and night are equal in length.
• Look for flights of returning migratory ducks in your local freshwater wetlands and ponds. Ring-necked ducks, Green-winged teal, Wood ducks, Black ducks, and mallards are all heading to their breeding grounds.
• Salamander migration begins on the first warm, rainy night. Watch for them crossing roads in wooded areas.
• Pussy willows are fuzzed out about now.
• Listen for family, friends, relatives, and neighbors to say their favorite weather or nature proverb.
• March 21st. Saturn makes its closest approach to the earth tonight.

4th Week
March 29th. Full moon. The Sap moon.
• March 28th Sunrise 6:34AM Sunset 7:06PM Length of Day 12 hours 32 minutes
• The winter constellations are moving westward. Watch for the last days of Orion and Pleiades.
• On warm days and nights, listen for the soft, ducklike “quack” call of Wood frogs from vernal pools in wooded areas.
• Willow branches start turning green.
• On sunny days, watch for early garter snakes in sunny locations around rocks and rubble, near grasses.
• Red maples bloom; look for the reddish haze in wooded swamps.

I have modeled this after, and drawn heavily from, Mass. Audubon's Monthly Calendar in their Sanctuary magazine.

Here is a link to Mass Audubon's Outdoor Almanac. found on their website.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bird of the Week - XXVl

This week's "Bird of the Week" is a bird you probably haven't seen before, but does nest here in Reading. It is the American woodcock. The American woodcock is a shorebird that lives in forests! The American Woodcock is most frequently encountered at dusk when the male's chirping, peenting aerial displays attract attention. Otherwise the superbly camouflaged bird is difficult to discover on the forest floor where it probes for earthworms.  The flexible tip of the American Woodcock's bill is specialized for catching earthworms. The bird probably feels worms as it probes in the ground. A woodcock may rock its body back and forth without moving its head as it slowly walks around, stepping heavily with its front foot. This action may make worms move around in the soil, increasing their detectablity.The Woodcock is plump, with a round head, no apparent neck, and a long bill. It's coloring is shades of brown, buff, and gray which allows it to camouflage itself quite nicely.  The American woodcock is a gamebird, meaning that it can be leagally hunted

The male American Woodcock has an elaborate display to attract females. He gives repeated "peents" on the ground, often on remaining patches of snow in the early spring. After a time he flies upward in a wide spiral. As he gets higher, his wings start to twitter. After reaching a height of 70-100 m (230-328 ft) the twittering becomes intermittent, and the bird starts chirping as he starts to descend. He comes down in a zig-zag, diving fashion, chirping as he goes. As he comes near the ground he silently lands, near a female if she is present. Then he starts peenting again. You can observe this spectacular courtship display at the Bare Meadow Conservation Land, off of Pearl St. here in Reading. They display just before dawn and again at dusk.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Law of Conservation of Energy

The Law of Conservation of Energy

This theory states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.  It can only be transformed from one form of energy to another.

We can put this another way:
* Energy cannot be made
* Energy cannot be destroyed.  It is never "used up."
Energy can just change from one form to another.

The amount of energy you start out with is the same amount of energy you end up with.  Only the forms of energy change.

We did many activities and drawings to help learn about this theory.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bird of the Week - XXV

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Carolina wren. Twenty years ago, it would have been very rare to see a Carolina wren in Reading. Now, they are fairly common around town. This bird is a great example of range expansion, that is living organisms expanding the range in which they live. The Carolina wren is a bird of the Southeast but now can be found in all most all of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and southern Maine. It can be found in a wide range of habitats, from swamps to forest to residential area. They requires moderately dense shrub or brushy cover. They eat primarily insects, but can be found around winter bird feeders eating suet.

The Carolina wren is a small, buffy, songbird with rusty colored underparts. It oftens holds it tail in the upright position and it has a white eye stripe. The sexes look alike with the male slightly larger. The Carolina wren's song is a very loud, clear, 3-syllabled chant, like "tea kettle - tea kettle - tea kettle." It is one of the few birds that will sing in the dead of winter.
The Carolina wren is quite creative as to where it will nest and roost at night. It will nest in hanging plants, tipped over flower pots, nest boxes, it will even nest in garages if the door or window is kept open. Last winter, I had a Carolina wren roost (sleep) in my Christmas wreath hanging on my front door! Here are plans you could follow to build a shelter box for Carolina wrens, or other small birds, to use at night.
Photos taken from Cornells All About Birds.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Group 68 Heat Transfer Projects

Group 67 Heat Transfer Projects

Heat Transfer Projects

The students completed their heat transfer Projects last week. They were great! Kids did Power Point presentations, Home Made Videos, Newspapers, "Big Books", Booklets, Mobiles, Songs, Puppet Shows, Poetry, Activity Books, Dioramas, Illustrated Poster Boards, Custom Tee Shirts, 3-D Models, and others.
Photos of projects from each group are posted on the blog.
Here was the assignment:
Heat Transfer Projects

I want you to demonstrate to me what you have learned about heat energy and how heat travels. You need to select an activity from the list below to show your understanding of either conduction, convection, radiation, heat insulators, heat conductors, or the Electromagnetic Spectrum. You may use your science binder to help you, plus you may use other reference material if needed.
Your work should be original. Do not copy something! Your grade will be based on:
• Your understanding of the concept.
• Creativeness
• Originality
This project is due on or before Thursday, March 4th.
1. Write a poem(s) – You could write an acrostic poem, Haiku, Tanka verse, Limerick, shape or picture style poem, or a traditional style verse.
2. Write a song or rap. It could be an original or you could write lyrics for an existing song.
3. Newspaper – Design and write a page from a newspaper in which you are reporting on heat. It may include an ad, an editorial, etc.
4. Short story – You may elect to write a short story dealing with heat transfer.
5. Comic strip – You could design, illustrate, and write a comic strip having to do with some aspect of heat trasnsfer.
6. Some form of artwork. – Make a sculpture, painting, personalized tee-shirt, 3-D shape, quilt, cross stitch, etc. to show your understanding of some aspect of heat transfer.
7. Puppet show.
8. Homemade video.
9. Book or booklet.
10. Other ???