Grade 6 Electricity Investigations, Building Understandings
How do we incorporate Ministry expectations within a school dedicated to an inquiry approach?
Curricular expectations included evaluate the impact of the use of electricity on humans and the environment, construct simple circuits and investigate transformations of electricity forms.
A collaboration between homeroom teacher Amanda Humphreys, Science and Design Technology Coordinator Jill Fisher and Technology Integration Specialist Winnie Hunsburger who worked as co-researchers with the girls throughout this project.
The investigations were driven by students’ questions to improve their ideas and theories as well as explorations in the Design Technology lab and visits around the electricity sources within our own school. Consulting experts within the school, holding a Town Hall meeting and allowing the girls to construct their own knowledge through an online discussion board allowed the girls to deepen their understanding.
Excepts from the Online Discussions
The use of Knowledge Forum, an online discussion board, allowed the students to share their initial ideas, debate their theories and evolve their thinking and understanding of how electricity works.
“My theory is that electricity is a power charge with wires and sparks. It’s tough to understand.”
“That is a good idea. I didn’t think about the wires but what do you think the wires do [I think they connect the object and the outlet] tell me what you think. Are there always sparks?”
This theory can not explain…
“This theory cannot explain why electricity travels and how it travels. Does it have something behind pushing it?”
“I need to understand why you think electricity involves power charge, wires and sparks. What about electrons and on/off switches?”
“Electricity is a form of energy and a flow of electrons. All matter is made of atoms. These atoms have a center called nucleus. The nucleus is made of positive energy pieces, called protons and uncharged pieces called neutrons. The center of an atom is surrounded by negative energy pieces called electrons. The amount of negative energy in an electron is equal to the amount of positive energy in a proton, because of this, to balance the two elements out, there is usually an equal amount of protons and electrons. When something disturbs the balanced situation between the two elements, an atom could gain or lose an electron. When an electron is gone, the free movement of the electrons creates an electric current.”
“Could you please explain the atoms in a more simple way. I don’t quite understand it all. Thanks! I liked the photos they helped me get a bit of a clearer picture of what an atom looks like.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t really get this. Can you make it a bit shorter and clearer?”
“Ok, since a lot of people think that my last entry is too scientific, I will shorten it. What I am saying is that atoms make up everything, us, the earth, animals, all types of matter. An atom has positive energy (protons), negative energy (electrons) and neutral energy (neutrons). There are the same number of protons and electrons. When something takes away an electron, it is taking away part of the negative energy, that makes electricity.”