Week of June 27th  – June 29th  2016:

We are done Science for the year… our Science classes all year have been scheduled for the morning of Day 3… this week, Day 3 is Wednesday, June 29th… maybe we’ll think of some experiments to do in the Lions’ Pool  when we’re swimming there Wednesday morning 😉


Week of June 20th – June 24th 2016.

All year, I’ve been using Nearpod to engage the students in back-and-forth question and answer sessions in Math… last week I turned the tables and invited them to create Nearpod accounts (using their GAFE e-mails) and to create an interactive lesson for their classmates, on a topic of their choice.  I did encourage them to choose a topic under the umbrella of Science, and gave them a collection of kid-friendly websites to explore as they tried to find a topic of interest to them, but many had other ideas about what they wanted to look into, so in the end, I just left it up to them.  They’ll continue to work on those Nearpod presentations this week, and engage their classmates in interactive sessions where they’ll participate in the lessons their peers create.

Week of June 6th – June 10th 2016.

Last week, students took to the playground with 1 kg metal weights in hand, and tested various items (wood, metal, plastic, brick, concrete, and earth) to see how well  sound travelled through the different materials.  This week, they will continue their investigations into the properties of sound, by conducting a set of experiments to determine which factors impact the clarity with which sound travels through string.  They will be learning about the scientific terms “constant” and “variable”, and they will change the variable in a series of experiments, record their observations, and formulate conclusions based on their investigations.

Week of May 30th – June 3rd 2016.

Last week, we missed our scheduled Science time due to the Jump Rope for Heart activities – so we’ll pick up where we meant to begin last Monday – with an exploration of the properties of sound.  Take a look at last week’s description for more details.


Week of May 23rd  – May 27th, 2016:

This week, we’ll begin investigating some of the properties of sound – how does it travel?  Does it travel more quickly or more slowly through different materials?  How do our brains process sound information?  We’ll conduct a couple of experiments and, if we have time, students will do some independent exploration using the Exploratorium App, and blog about what they learned on their personal blogs.

Week of May 16th  – May 20th, 2016:

With all the extra activities and events going on lately, I am having difficulty getting enough time to dig into concepts in Science.  We still need to spend some time consolidating our learning about how gears function, and I plan to do that, without exception, first thing Monday morning, before our Jump Rope for Heart information session.  Next week, we will begin some hands-on Sound Investigations, and also work with the Exploratorium App.

Week of May 9th  – May 13th, 2016:

Last week, we spent our regularly scheduled Science class working on a Mother’s Day project (I couldn’t put that in the weekly update.. it would have ruined the surprise!) – but we did have time to chat with Ms. Strome’s Grade 4’s (from North Woods Elementary near Listowel) over FaceTime to hear their frustrations about constructing the gear cars, and offer them some strategies to help them problem-solve.

We’ll start our exploration of the Science of Sound with a look at a very cool App called “Exploratorium – Sound Uncovered” – it’s free from the App store, and I will install it on the classroom iPads – students who use their own devices may wish to download it, or to work with a friend.  There is a collecting of different experiments and investigations on the app,  which includes background information about the science behind sound.  Students will be asked to play around with the different investigations, and to blog about what they learned.Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 8.13.14 PM

Week of May 2nd – May 6th, 2016:.

This week in Science we’ll consolidate some of the learning that took place as students constructed their gear cars – making sure that everyone understands how gears work, and how they can be used to make a machine move faster, and slower.

We’ve been asked by another Grade 4 class in the district to support them in their learning as they take on the same project – some students will be Skyping into our classroom, with trouble-shooting questions for our gear engineers

Our next topic in Science will be Sound – students are encouraged to begin to think of ideas they would like to explore, related to this overall topic.


Week of  April 18th – April 22nd, 2016.

I think we may have reached a plateau with our work on the gear cars… students have discovered many things while building them, and in the process have constructed their own knowledge about how gears work. At this point, it’s time to consolidate some of that knowledge and articulate what we understand about pulleys and gears.  We’ll do that next week (since Day 3 is our usual, extended block of time for Science, and with the P.A. Day, there is no day 3 this week.


Week of  April 11th – April 15th, 2016

This week, we’ll continue to work on our battery-powered gear cars.  Many students experienced frustration while trying to get their gears to mesh while their motor was running… so we’ll try to figure that out this week, and then complete a trial run, where we see how far (and how fast) each car can go – and explore why some travel farther, faster and straighter than others.


Week of  April 4th – April 8th, 2016

This week, we’ll continue to work on our battery-powered gear cars.  Many students managed to put together a working model last week – this week, they’ll continue to refine their designs, and try to conquer some new challenges, such as figuring out :

  • how to set up the gears so that the car goes slower
  • how to set up the gears so that the car goes faster
  • how to slow the car down, or stop it altogether

I look forward to watching them problem-solve through the various stages.


Week of March 28th  – April 1st, 2016

Several times over the course of the school year,  I seek input from students, asking them for the names of people they feel they work well with, both boys and girls.  I use the information they provide to me to generate partnerships for different activities, including our next project in Science, which is to design and build a battery-powered toy car, that is gear-driven.

In the process of building their cars, students will discover many things about how gears work as they solve problems related to increasing speed, changing direction, and maintaining a straight course,

The first design challenge is this:  Using the items in the photo below, build a car that travels for several meters in a straight line, when given a slight push.


Because we’ll be using some tools that have the potential to cause minor injury (hot glue guns sandpaper, and later… batteries and wires) – we had a discussion last week about safety in our Science class, and generated a list of rules to be included in a Science Safety contract that will be sent home for parent signature this week.

Once students have successfully mastered the first challenge, and documented and reflected on their progress using their iPad Cameras and the Explain Everything app, I will provide them with an additional set of materials, and a second challenge:  Use the materials pictured in the photo below to adapt your car so that it runs without a push.


Week of March 21st  – March 25th, 2016.

Although we won’t be dedicating any more in-class time to the Code-Org programming course, students are encouraged to continue to work through the course on their own, or when they have scheduled time in the computer lab.  I will continue to review their progress in my “teacher” account, and will take their work in the course into consideration when determining a grade for the final report.

This week, we will work to gain some background information about how gears are used in simple machines that we encounter in our day-to-day experiences, by reading and discussing 4 articles from the Nelson Literacy texts.  We’ll also collaborate to develop a “Science Safety Contract” – establishing guidelines for use of materials that we need to construct gear-driven kit-cars.  The safety contract will be sent home for parent signature this week.

I am awaiting shipment of some materials (I expect them to arrive this week) and then next week we will begin work on the construction of our gear cars.  The first challenge presented to students will be to build, given a standard set of materials, (tag board, wooden dowels, straws, wheels, traction bands) a car that travels in a straight line for several meters, when given a push.  Once they’ve succeeded at that task, students will be provided with additional materials (sets of gears, a motor, battery and wires).

Students will be asked to document and reflect on the process, using the Explain Everything App on their iPads and their blogs.

Week of March 7th  – March 1th, 2016.

Students will continue to work on their Coding course in Code.Org – this will be the norm until the March Break – after which we’ll get back into some hands-on work with gears.

Check your progress at – your sign in and password are in your Showbie account.


Week of February 29th  – March 4th, 2016.

Students will continue to work on their Coding course in Code.Org – this will be the norm until the March Break – after which we’ll get back into some hands-on work with gears.


Week of February 22nd – February 26th, 2016.

Students will continue to work on their Coding course in Code.Org – this will be the norm until the March Break – after which we’ll get back into some hands-on work with gears.


Week of February 15th – February 19th, 2016.

Students started working on their Coding course in Code.Org last week.  I’ve been taking the course along with them, and have discovered that as I move further ahead in it, I need to watch the instructional videos at the beginning of each new section, in order to be successful.

So…. my advice? Watch the videos – you’ll need headphones so that you don’t disturb your classmates – if you don’t already have a pair of headphones at school, I strongly suggest you bring some in – we do have some available for students to borrow… but let me reiterate… while we do not have any current cases of head lice in the class (insert knocking on wood sound here…) – there is no quicker way to spread lice than sharing headphones – please bring your own 🙂

Students can access the secure link to their Code.Org accounts in their Science Class on Showbie – where there is also a photograph of your “secret words” to log in to your profile.

For those of you ready for a challenge – play around with Code Studio – where you can begin to write your own code.  As we move forward with this skill, I’ll be adding apps (see below)  to the class iPads that allow students to design and create games, animations, etc. with code.

Tynker 1 hopscotch homegraphic


Week of February 1st – February 5th, 2016.


Computer programming is quickly becoming a form of “literacy” that will soon be as essential to being successful in our world as reading and writing.  Schools in the UK already include coding in their curriculum, and British Columbia just announced plans to add it to their provincial curriculum.  Students in Stratford have opportunities to learn coding at the high school level, and when I talked with the computer science teacher at SCSS, he explained to me how much further he would be able to take his students in his courses, if they had a basic introduction to computer science and programming in elementary school.

We could wait until Ontario “officially” integrates computer programming into the curriculum… it’s coming…. but why wait?  A quick scan of the curriculum document this morning showed me that I can easily “make it fit” under the learning expectations already listed.  According to the Science curriculum, Grades 1-8, under the heading “Thinking and Investigation” , students should be instructed in:

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 11.39.29 AM

(Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum, p.24)

Perfect…. computer programming or “coding” fits beautifully into all of those descriptors.  I am by no means an expert, and will be learning alongside the students, but there is a fantastic resource out there called “Code.Org”, which offers self-paced coding classes.  I’ve signed the kids up (first names only, no personal information disclosed) under my teacher account.. and hope to get started with them this week.  This will be our focus in Science for the next little while, and then we’ll get back into the “hands-on” work that we’ve been doing for the past few weeks – working with gears to construct toy cars… but more on that later.

I’ll be providing your child with his/her “Code.Org” login this week – I’ll put it directly into his/her Showbie file, under the assignment titled “Code.Org” in their Science class.  I would recommend they start with “Course 2” – it will seem simple at first, but they’ll progress quickly to more complex coding.

For more on why we should be learning computer programming… click on the video link below – it’s meant for a US audience, but the message applies to us too:

Week of February 1st – February 5th, 2016.

Last week, students worked in teams to construct movable pulleys, and discovered that, compared to a fixed pulley (which doesn’t reduce the amount of effort needed to raise the 1 kg weight off the floor) – the movable pulley does reduce the work – by half!

Students learned, using a spring scale, that to raise a 1 kg weight off the floor requires 10 Newtons of force.  Without getting into the physics of it all (which I’m not sure is within my skill set…) – it’s best explained in terms of how hard you need to “push” something to resist the force of gravity.  A force of 10 Newtons is the force you’d need to apply to hold approximately 1kg against the force of gravity (at the Earths surface). For example, if you balance a 1kg object on the palm of your hand, then the force with which your hand must push upwards, just to hold it still, is approximately 10 Newtons.


Students used spring scales like this one, and 1 kg weights to make the following discoveries:

  • a 1 kg weight requires 10 newtons of force to lift it off the ground, without the use of a pulley
  • the same 1 kg weight still requires 10 newtons of force to lift it off the ground, using a single fixed pulley

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.07.46 PMThis past week, we discovered that the same 1 kg weight, requires only 5 newtons of force to lift it off the ground, using a single movable pulley:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.14.59 PM

We concluded that 1 movable pulley reduces the amount of force needed to lift the weight by 1/2.

This week, we’ll be constructing a “block and tackle” pulley system, comprised of both fixed and movable pulleys.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.19.08 PMIf a 1 kg weight requires 10 Newtons to lift it off the ground, a 100 kg weight would require 1000 Newtons.   How many Newtons would be required to lift the 100 kg weight, using this block and tackle system?




Week of January 25th – January 29th, 2016.

Last week, students worked in teams of 2 and 3 to construct single fixed pulley systems, and discovered that using a fixed pulley to raise a 1 kg weight off the floor, requires the same amount of force as lifting it without the pulley.


So…. why bother using a pulley, if it doesn’t make any difference?  Because… as one of our budding scientists pointed out…it “feels easier” – we discussed this, and came to the conclusion that even though we have to use the same amount of force to raise the weight, using a fixed pulley changes the direction that we apply the force – instead of pulling up to lift the weight, we pull down on the rope.  Pulling down is easier,  for 2 reasons

Pulling down is easier,  for 2 reasons:

[1]  When you pull down, you are working with the force of gravity, not against it – so it’s easier to pull down than pull up.

[2] When you pull down, you can use your body weight to help you, instead of relying completely on the muscles in your arms.

This week, we’ll be constructing movable pulleys, and testing to see if they provide any “mechanical advantage” – that is, does a movable pulley reduce the amount of force needed to raise a 1 kg weight 40 cm off the floor?


Week of January 18th – January 22nd, 2016.

This week, students will be building their understanding of how pulleys operate, through a design challenge.

Specifically, they will be provided with access to materials (pulleys, weights, string, spring scales, tape, metre sticks) will work with 1 or 2 other people to construct  a pulley system that will raise an object (about 500 g) from the floor to a height of about 50 cm.


Watch the home page for photographs of the inventors at work!


Week of January 11th – January 15th, 2016.

This week, students will complete an assessment task designed to give me additional information about their understanding of concepts covered in our Habitats and Communities Unit.  They completed a review last week to help them prepare; a hard copy was sent home with them Friday, and an electronic copy is available on the home page of the class blog, and also pasted below for your convenience:

Habitats Unit Review

Week of January 4th – January 8th, 2016.

This week, we’ll be reviewing the major themes and ideas in the Habitats and Communities unit, and work together to develop a study guide.  Students will complete an assessment task next week (Monday, January 11th) where they will have an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of topics such as habitats, animal adaptations, and food webs.

In the near future, we’ll be starting investigations with pulley systems – this is all hands-on work, and can be quite chaotic – so if there are any willing parent volunteers out there, brave enough to join us as we work together to build structures with fixed, movable, and multiple pulley systems, please let Mrs. Carr know!


Week of December 14th – December 18th, 2015

This week we had an unexpected, but very welcome visit from Mr. Pottruff, AMDSB’s Math and Science Co-Ordinator…. and I’m drawing a straight line between his work with the kids on subtraction on Thursday with the success they were experiencing on Friday 🙂

However – we did skip Science and spend an entire morning on Math last week, which means we haven’t yet looked at Food Webs and the interconnectedness between all living things – Ms. Bossence will be doing some work with students on those concepts this week.

Week of December 7th – December 11th, 2015

This week, students will put the finishing touches on the specially adapted “creatures” they designed and built, then they’ll be learning about the human connections to the natural world, and our role in the food web.  Ms. Bossence takes the lead in Science this week.


Week of November 30th – December 4th, 2015

All of the Animals in their Habitats projects that have been uploaded to Showbie have been reviewed and marked, with a completed feedback form uploaded to each student’s account.  If you do not have a feedback form in your Showbie Science assignment folder, it’s because you haven’t yet submitted your work – if you’re one of the people in that position, please get it in as soon as possible – morning recesses (except for Day 5, when I have yard duty) are available for students who need extra time to get their projects completed.

This week, we’re working on a new, creative project in Science.  Students have researched a Biome (Dessert, Tropical Rainforst, Arctic Tundra, etc.) and made jot notes about the climate, plant and animal life.  Our next step is to design an entirely new species of animal – one with specialized adaptations designed to help it survive in its Biome – I can’t wait to see what your creative minds come up with!


Week of November 23rd – November 27th, 2015

Students should ensure that they have completed and submitted their Animals in their Habitats projects to their Showbie accounts.  Those who need extra time to work on this are welcome to join me in the morning before school starts, or can work on the task during any morning recess (except Day 5, which this week is Wednesday, as I have outdoor supervision duty).

We will continue to explore animal adaptations, work on our “Who Am I?” animal cards, and beginning a project where students will design a “new” species that is specially adapted to live in an environment that the student chooses.


Week of November 13th – November 20th, 2015

Most students have, by now, completed their “Animals in their Habitats” research projects and uploaded them to Showbie.  I’ll be taking time over the next couple of weeks to review their work and offer some feedback.

Students who have not completed the task yet will be offered some alternative times (i.e. in the morning before school starts, or during first recess) to come in and get the job done.

Ms. Bossence will be taking over teaching responsibilities in Science, with a focus this week on Animal Adaptations.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.49.01 PM

Week of November 9th – November 13th, 2015

This will be our last week when we have “in-class” time to work on our “Animals in their Habitats” presentations, using the “Explain Everything” app.  Students should be using the checklist to make sure they have included all the required components, and they’ll be uploading their Explain Everything Project files into Showbie by Friday.


Week of November 2nd – November 6th, 2015.

The bulk 0f our time in Science, over the past few weeks, has been spent working on the Animal Inquiry projects.  Students have chosen an animal to research, and have been recording their findings in an Explain Everything file.  My expectation as that these will be completed and uploaded to Showbie by the end of next week.  

Below is a link to the checklist we developed together to make sure that everyone covered all the required topics in their research.  There is a sample posted in the classroom, and also on Showbie, for students to reference.

Animal Project Checklist


Week of September 21st – September 25th, 2015

Last week, students had some time to explore the Wild Kratts website and learn a little about animal habitats.  This week, we’ll focus again on the question “what makes a habitat” and students will select an animal that will be the focus of an inquiry project.


Week of September 14th – September 18th, 2015

Last week, we only had one scheduled Science class, but were so involved in our surveys and data collection that we blew right through Science class and did Math for 2 hours! (and no one complained!!) – so we’ll start this week by exploring the question – “What makes a habitat?” and students will start to think about what living creature they would like to inquire about.


Week of September 8th – September 11th, 2015

We’ll begin the year with a look at habitats and communities. What living creatures fascinate you? What questions do you have? What would you like to learn more about?

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