Boys & Girls Club session 2

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Jan 17, 2009
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Right back into the fray! :)

Session 2 actually started LAST week as I am behind in having my photo albums updated. This session we were ambitious with many classes. The problem is that we have a LOT of kids out with the flu and other ailments so class sizes have been small.

Our original lineup looked like this:
  • Pinball Machine Design and construction (4 teams of 2)
  • Deck the halls (making holiday decorations - CANCELLED low signups)
  • Flight Club (each week we make something different that flies)
  • Pinewood Derby (was going to be cancelled but at the last minute we got 6 signups! Whew!)
  • Wired (Teaching house wireing) Cancelled - low signups
  • Pumpkin carving (Litchfield) (2 week quick-class just before Halloween (all done))
  • Flight Club (Litchfield) - The last 3 weeks of the current 5 week session)
  • Rocketry - Beginner (we got 18 kids signed up! Wow! The first rocket is the Avalear)
  • Rocketry - Advanced (we got 8 signed up! Wanting to explore micro rocketry we're building the Ingergalactic Man of Space first.

The pinball class is a first for me and looks to be a lot of fun. The kids are assigned duties (titles) which include:
  • Engineer (responsible for the overall design used)
  • Materials Manager (responsible for getting and returning all materials needed for the day (including tools)
  • Documentation manager - Responsible for documenting the design and keeping the drawing matching the actual machine
  • Presenter - Responsible for presenting their current status at the end of each day

The roles above are rotated each week so everyone in a team get to experience each role. Near the end of the 2 hour class we shut down, clean up, return tools and then have a round table discussion (the presenter) about what works, doesn't work and what their plans for next week are.

The kids are really getting into it! :)

Rocketry has gone *orbital* with very large classes. It's great but a bit of a challenge :) fortunately I have 2 helpers who are former rocketry students who are now in middle school. A big problem we're going to have is growing class size and shrinking daylight for launches... We're going to have to make some other arrangements if we are to get all of these models launched!

I have posted pictures. You can find them by Clicking this link. (Session 2 is shown in blue)

Have fun! :)
Jim, I was really interested in that pinball machine as I've never seen that activity before. Since I'm just starting the physics unit with my 5th grade homeschooled kiddo and am always on the lookout for new ideas, I'm curious if you'd do anything differently?

It's just killed me, but she's always hated science (she can dance ballet and play flute like a dream, though). I've really had to rethink things from my teaching days, both as a response to how she's wired up but also seeing her last year memorizing full pages of science definitions and statements but not be able to explain a thing to me about what was really going on. I've pretty much given lectures over to Bill Nye as he's soooo good and she responds well to the library has the full set. (You can imagine how humbling it is to my ten years of science teaching experience and masters degree in Curriculum & Instructionto be doing DVD lectures. ;)). I'm also making science very lab/activity oriented, which as you well know makes a huge difference in how they absorb and understand. I don't think she will ever love it, but she's considerably more postive now.

The argument against doing heavily activity-based science is time it takes in the classroom, but it's been interesting to me to see we're right on schedule. This whole experience has been really enlightening.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the good idea. :)

That unit is new for me too. I am still learning what works and doesn't in my setup. So far we're in week 3 of a 7 week program. (actually 6weeks as I am missing one week for my trip to CA).

What we've done so far is to make a generic board with working traps (I will have more detail on our photo album when I get the new pix posted next week). The kids were able to demonstrate how to get the ball to different traps and why some were harder (thus higher point value) than others.

Our next class will have us building a spring loaded ball launcher and the week after that, paddles to keep the ball in play,.

Our last week each team is going to play the *other* teams games for points and prizes. Should be fun.

Well, session 2 was a whirlwind! It took me till Christmas vacation to get the photo's uploaded LOL You can find the photo album by clicking this link. (new photo's are in SESSION #2)

Session 2 for both Merrimack and Litchfield are done. In Litchfield we added 2 short "half sessions" because we split the session up into a 2-week followed by a 3 week session. the later half we added a class on "Ornaments" (making Christmas ornaments) and "Weird Science" where we explored magnetics, sensory experiments and dry ice.

All in all it was a great experience. In Pin Ball class we finished by hosting a Class Championship where each student got to play everyone else's game for points and prizes. In addition to pictures I have also uploaded some video's from the class. Good stuff.

Flight Club was a hoot (always is :) )

Rocketry presented some interesting problems... We have more than twice the number of kids compared to previous years. We missed our first (of 2) launches, leaving us with twice the number of models to fly). AND at this time of year we have a launch window of about 45 minutes before the sun sets... Certainly not enough time to get 50+ rockets into the air! LOL So I set up a Saturday launch and we were able to get everyone into the air, despite wind chills to the single digits!

Ornaments was wonderful and the kids really got into it

Weird Science was, well, weird... But then, that's what it is supposed to be. During our "Sensory" lesson I had the kids build "tin can telephones" to better demonstrate sound waves. Man, this blew their minds! LOL

Session 3 starts on Monday and I will start a new thread for that one. This session I have the following classes:
  • Beginner rocketry
  • Flight Club
  • Roller Coaster design
  • Origami
  • Trebuchet
  • Advanced Rocketry

My rocketry classes have gotten large enough that I have a full 2 hours with each group (up till now each class was 2 hours but with a 1 hour overlap for a total of 3 hours for both classes).

I am trying to get the materials for the beginner class to build their own launch pad and controller so we will see how that goes.
Jim, I'm curious, now that it's over, did the pinball class go over well enough that you'd repeat it?

Good luck with the next round!

Jim, I'm curious, now that it's over, did the pinball class go over well enough that you'd repeat it?

Good luck with the next round!


Oh for sure. The best comment I got from one of the kids (a girl) was "this class is not at ALL what I expected! It's better!" :)

It's very simplistic in how it all works, but the hook for the kids is that they actually DO work and they loved competing head to head too.
Do you have plans for the trebuchet?

I can put something together for you. It is nothing fancy, I assure you :) The goal of the class (as with many of my classes) is to expose the kids to the different things they can do/build and design using common items.

The trebuchet is made using a wood dowel (about 18" long) attached to a meter stick with rubber bands. The dowel is the pivot point (fulcrum) while the meter stick is the arm of the trebuchet. The rubber band is so that we can easily adjust where the fulcrum is. Using a meter stick allows the kids to easily record the location of the fulcrum.

The dowel goes through the handles of two 1-gallon water jugs to act as a pivot point (the weight of the jugs helps to keep this thing on the table...)

We set up with two tables pushed close together with a jug on each table and the trebuchet arm falling between them.

On one end of the meter stick you have a large stack of steel washers attached, also by rubber bands, to act as the counter weight.

The other end of the meter stick has a small cup attached, to hold the projectile (wadded up ball of paper, ping pong ball, etc)

You launch your projectile by pulling the cup down and then releasing.

I have attached a photo that *kinda* shows what one looks like. This was from last week where they were first introduced to the materials with NO information on how to make a trebuchet. They were invited to spend the hour trying to figure something out and this team came closest to the actual solution. Later this week I will have better pictures.

Hope this helps! :)

Pear Tree Check out William Gurstelle's Backyard-Ballistics and The Art of the Catapult

Cool idea Jim, I like it a lot. Now I have something to do with the laundry detergent bottles I use as Tarp weights in between coats of paint.