SLMS students learn about energy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Storm Lake seventh grade science students spent the first semester learning about energy. They worked with ramp labs where they varied the height of the ramp and measured the distance that the golf ball rolled down the ramp before it stopped. They evaluated what factors affect the energy in the golf ball. Then they learned more about ramps with a computer simulated skate park ramp. After learning about kinetic and potential energy, they created roller coasters. Students soon realized that if they had too much potential energy, which converted to kinetic energy, that their marbles flew off the track.

In addition to learning about the various types of energy, they learned about energy transfer. Videos of various Rube Goldberg machines, a simple task is complete with multiple steps, helped students see how energy could be transferred from one form to another. They culminated this unit by creating Alka Seltzer rockets. Their goal was to see how chemical energy was transferred to kinetic energy, enabling the rocket to launch.

Students designed their rockets around a film canister. Their goal was to design a rocket that would launch the highest. The rockets were launched outside. They collected data to determine how long it took their rocket to launch and after launching, how long it was in the air.

Students were able to adjust their rockets to improve their launching success. Some of the students found that their rockets were too tall or that they had too much mass. Some studentsí rockets did not launch; they had to decide what to change in order for it to be successful.

Students then changed a variable. Variables that students were able to change included amount of Alka Seltzer tablet, temperature of water (room, cold or hot), generic tablet, and using more water. Data was collected and compared to their previous launches. Students found that changing variables could increase/decrease their launch time or launch height.

The 7th graders learned that they needed to be patient as they waited for the chemical reaction to create enough carbon dioxide for the rocket to launch.

Now the young scientists are exploring ecosystems. They are learning all of the components necessary to create a successfully functioning ecosystem. Once we know they have mastered this, our next step is to create their own ecosystems in our classroom. This will show them what components are essential to drive life.