A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to have the dad if one of my students come in and do an AWESOME activity with our class. He works at the Bonneville Power Administration, and they offer several different FREE classroom presentations for various grade levels.
To begin, we learned a little bit about the BPA and what they do. We found out that most of the electricity we use is generated by giant turbines at the dams. This lead to rur activity: build turbines and test to see which designs recorded the most power.
The kids worked in teams of 3 or 4 to design a turbine, all using the same materials: paper cups, index cards, masking tape, and a pencil.
It was interesting to watch their thought processes and listen to their conversations!
Some groups were a little more productive, and some more creative, but they were all VERY engaged!
Once they had their turbine built, they brought it over to the table to test it on this contraption:
We kept track of their results on the board, and after testing they went back to their groups to see if they could make improvements to increase their turbine's output.
Most teams ended up building more than one turbine, and they all tested & modified their designs multiple times. It was an AWESOME experience and I didn't have to prepare materials ahead of time or clean up anything afterwards!!!