Science: Plate Tectonics

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Weeks twelve and thirteen of school we did unit 7. Our science topic was plate tectonics.

We watched YouTube videos about the magnetic and true north and how the earth’s crust deforms.

We made cookies and used them to demonstrate how the earth’s plates collide. I tried to decorate my cookie with the US, but it ended up looking more like Africa.

Cookie Plate Tectonics

We used our hands to show the way the plates collide or move past each other.

We demonstrated how the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is causing the Atlantic Ocean to widen by a few centimeters per year.

Cookie Plate Tectonics

We plotted a whole bunch of South American earthquakes.

We demonstrated the ways plates move past each other using graham crackers.

We learned about the Cascadia subduction zone, the Ring of Fire, and the East Arica Rift.

Science: Earth Structure

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Week eleven of school we did unit 6. Our science topic was earth structure.

We learned about the layers of the earth.

We demonstrated how waves travel through air vs. something solid and how that helps us know which layers of the earth are solid and which are liquid.

We used heat (from friction) to cause a top to “bounce” on a very cold bottle.

We used a hard-boiled egg to demonstrate the layers of the earth.

We used a hard-boiled egg and a raw egg to show how the earth wobbles as it spins like the raw egg does because of the liquid inside.

Egg Spin and Wobble

We played with magnets and iron filings to demonstrate magnetic fields.

Magnet and Iron Filings

Stronger Magnet and Iron Filings

We melted some grocery bags to show how plastic can melts.

We used boiling oil to show convection currents.

Science: Energy Conversion

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Weeks nine and ten of school we did unit 5. Our science topic was energy conversion.

We learned about what energy types there are along the way from sun to food.

We traced the path of solar energy to television power.

We learned how a Newton’s Cradle works and played with one.

Newton’s Cradle

More Newton’s Cradle

We dropped two balls, a small one on top of a big one, to demonstrate how the energy in the big ball (that hit the ground first) magnifies the energy in the small ball.

Ball Drop

Ball Drop in Slow Motion

We made a quick energy drink and talked about how it changes type of energy in your body.

We played a quiz game about energy conversion.

We caused various collisions with little cars.

Car Collisions 1

Car Collisions 2

We watched a YouTube video of a car accident in slow motion.

We learned about what collisions mean scientifically.

We watched a clip from Sesame Street about a kinetic artist. The boys were a little freaked out by the monsters. I always forget they didn’t watch Sesame Street when they were little.

We watched a couple OK Go videos including one with a Rube Goldberg machine.

Science: Energy Sources

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Weeks seven and eight of school we did unit 4. Our science topic was energy sources.

We learned about how a nuclear reactor works and then took a virtual tour of a nuclear power plant.

We learned about how nuclear chain reactions happen and then watched a demonstration using mousetraps and ping pong balls.

We learned about Enrico Fermi

We learned about fusion and colored a worksheet explaining it.

We learned about three major nuclear power plant meltdowns and their causes and results and discussed whether nuclear power deserves the fear surrounding it.

We watched a video of a mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb.

We demonstrated how turbines spin using a milk carton and water.

We made a water wheel using butter tubs.

Butter Tub Water Wheel

We traced the path of energy through a power plant.

We made a little light light up using a photovoltaic cell and a Snap Circuits kit.

Snap Cicuits Light With Photovoltaic Cell

We talked about the costs of different energy sources and the pros and cons of each.

We watched a video about responsible use of energy.

Science: Energy

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Weeks five and six of school we did unit 3. Our science topic was energy.

We watched a video demonstrating how potential energy becomes kinetic energy using some strangely sized dominoes.

We demonstrated one joule (by lifting a bottle weighing about 100 grams one meter in one second).

We learned about James Prescott Joule.

We calculated the number of joules entering water as it heated.

We learned about Thomas Young.

We learned about heavier and lighter objects falling at the same or different speeds and the reasons why.

We learned about potential energy turning into kenetic energy and demonstrated it by dropping things.

We learned about Coriolis and his effect.

We made a chocolate chip launcher. Those chips hurt if they hit you!

Potential to Kinetic Energy: Chocolate Chip Launcher in Slow Motion

We watched a video demonstrating elastic energy through cutting up a watermelon using just rubberbands.

We discussed types of energy used by Olympians in the skeleton and speed skating.

We made a pendulum and identified what kind of energy was occurring when as it swung back and forth.

Potential to Kinetic Energy: Swinging Pendulum

Potential to Kinetic Energy: Swinging Pendulum in Slow Motion

We learned more about Galileo.

Science: Motors and Engines

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. The second two weeks of school we did unit 2. Our science topic was motors and engines.

We learned about Michael Faraday.

We tried to make a DC motor. The kit we got had horrible instructions. It was very difficult to understand them and the diagrams were useless. We eventually got it together, but it wouldn’t work.

So we watched a video on how a motor works instead.

We learned about Thomas Newcomen.

And took a virtual tour of a coal power plant in Alabama.

We dissected the motor from an old humidifier.

We learned about James Watt.

We played with gears. Fritz really got into it and had a great time setting them up.

Gears Video

We learned how a jet engine works.

And how a car engine works, too.

Science: Heat & Temperature

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. The first two weeks of school we did unit 1. Our science topic was heat and temperature.

We learned about the three temperature scales and where they came from, Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin.

We recorded the temperature of water as it boiled every 30 seconds for ten minutes. We learned that once it starts heating up it heats up rapidly and then as it gets closer to boiling it levels off. We also learned that our tap water boils at 216*F.

We measured the diameter (more or less) of a balloon at room temperature, after being submerged in ice water for a minute and a half, and after being submerged in very hot water for a minute and a half. We recorded the temperature of the air, ice water, and hot water in celsius and changed it to Kelvin. Then we figured out the volume of our sphere(ish) balloon at each temperature. We compared the volumes divided by the temperatures and found that they were close to equal no matter the temperature. The math wasn’t exactly right because measuring the diameter of the balloon wasn’t exactly right either.

We took the temperature of our hands and then rubbed them briskly together and then took their temperature again. The temperature increased because we added energy by rubbing them together.

We put a small glass of hot water dyed with red food coloring and covered in aluminum foil in a larger container of cold water. We poked a hole in the foil and then watched as the dyed hot water came up and out of the hole to mix with the cold water.

We made a convection current by heating up water mixed with food coloring and dish soap very slowly. Once it got almost to boiling we watched as the hot water on the bottom lifted up and then went back down as it cooled.

Convection Current Video

We chilled a container of water and a container of air. They were the same temperature. We touched both at one time and all agreed the water felt colder because it’s a better conductor.