The Grade 5/6 class were experimenting with matter to learn its properties and use changes in matter to do helpful things. We used our knowledge of matter properties and the Scientific Process to answer a question: Can we use data to improve paper boats that hold weight?
To be clear and keep a careful record, we followed the procedural writing steps we learnt in Language lessons. To test our knowledge and thinking skills effectively, we followed the scientific process and experimental skills we learned in the unit. To make sense of what we experienced and set goals to improve, we used our Math knowledge to measure and record data while testing the boats.
We each build a boat from one A4 piece of paper, using up to 15 cm of tape. We could choose any design we wanted. Next, we shared our designs and decided what features and categories all boats had that we could measure and record. Finally, we tested the boats’ buoyancy by placing them in water and adding weights until the sank.
After the first test, we recorded our data and organised it to make it more understandable. Using averages and looking at the range of measurements, we could make some hypotheses on what helps a boat hold weight. We compared different sets of data to find the best balance of features for a stronger boat. Some ideas we could see when we looked at the numbers. Other ideas could not be seen until we used a graph to compare. Using these steps, we decided that a boat needed to be flexibile, at least 3.5 cm deep and have a bottom with an area over 120 square cm.
We repeated the experiment to test our new ideas. We each made another boat, measured it and tested it in the water until it sank. The boats in the second test were MUCH stronger than the first ones. We learned that using data in experiments helps us figure things out and do things better.
Kaihi: If I did this again I will make it more clear so that it is organised and clearly seen. Now I understand that data can make things organised and help us find out. I learned to make data you need to use calculation and measurements.
Rithu: I learned that its good to find out things and talk to others because you can get more ideas to see the answers. It is connected to our tools because we can use data as a helpful thing and you can use data everywhere.
Claudia: I learned that if we make data it is easy to find a better way of doing something because it was very helpful when we did the boat experiment. I think data is connected to graphs because we need data to draw graphs.
Mimoza: Data is connected to graphs because graphs help you find, organise and understand the data. I learned that data is useful tool for understanding and it is important to understand.
Jay: I like this unit because we don’t just sit around and write. I can use this data to help me for other experiments. Now I understand that I could use this data for my advantage. Now I know that data can be used for understanding information.
Taku: Now I know that data could help us using organisation. Now I know that I could use data to my advantage for something that I think is so important. Now I know data is important for us to calculate and measure.
Nobu: Now I know that each graph has a job because I sometimes mess up the graphs. I can use this for understanding because graph can tell the story. I can use this for showing observations because graph is like an observation, but I need to think which graph is the best to understand.
Yoo Bin: If I did this again I will try and figure out the averages before making any other graphs because averages help us figure out things faster. Data is connected to the buoyancy experiment because we made the graphs and a table to find why something is happening. Now I know that by experimenting and getting averages we can get better in knowing something because we also got better for in buoyancy experiment.
Charlee: I would make my boat a square because it could hold the most and it is like the barges that are used for holding heavy materials. I learnt that it is better to use data in Math because we could learn something from it. If I did the math buoyancy experiment again I would do the graphing slowly because I rushed and I did not put quality into my work.
Teacher’s note: This is the first time the entire class made effective reflections on an activity with such detail and thought. I am also a learner in the classroom and I learnt that I must guide the class to activities that have as much exploration, discovery and experimentation as we had in this activity.