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Property of Air Demonstrations, Grade 6

-by Erin Couillard, Lisa Nelson, Carolyn Armstrong and Carly DeBoice

For our Aerodynamics and Flight unit this year, we decided to begin with students gaining an understanding of the properties of air, as outlined by the Alberta Program of Studies. To do this, students would be paired with a peer and assigned a property of air to investigate. They would then choose a demonstration that best explains/proves that specific property of air.

To begin with, we chose a small demonstration to do for them. This had two purposes. First, to construct a criteria around what an effective science demonstration looks like and second, to start digging into the properties of air. The demonstration we chose was to prove the existence of oxygen in the air by lighting two candles and then placing a jar over one of them. Students predicted what would happen and then attempted to explain why it happened and to indicate the property of air that it proved.

After observation and discussion, students co-constructed the following criteria around “What makes an effective Science demonstration”:
• Facing Audience
• Speaking loudly with enthusiasm and inflection
• Knowing your information
• Proving something with visual evidence
• Explaining each step
• Asking audience to make a prediction, giving them time to think
• Asking audience “Why”?
• Asking audience for observations

 Next, students will practice their demonstration to gain feedback from peers, teacher and parents (at student-led conferences) prior to creating a video of their demonstration for final assessment and sharing. Throughout this process each group will gain an understanding of all of the properties of air through learning how to write observations and conclusions. We will also be co-constructing criteria around observations and conclusions to ensure that each student has an understanding of the expectations. Stay tuned for more blog posts as we work our way through the unit(s).

Up next!
• Wind tunnel engineering project (see blog posts from previous years here and here)
• Parachute Design
• Paper Glider experiments

What are you doing for your Aerodynamics and Flight units? We would love to know! 


Garry McKinnon said...

I enjoyed reading your blog and hopefully teachers from other schools will take you up on your invitation to share what they are doing to engage their students in learning more about aerodynamics and flight. I like your focus on having students use a demonstration to reflect their understanding of these complex concepts. It is helpful to have the students co-constructing criteria for an effective science demonstration as a frame of reference.

John Hannah said...

Awesome idea. Videos for sharing with great demo criteria!

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