In­quiry ap­proach at St Joseph’s

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - HAY & SILAGE FEATURE -

Grade 5/6 stu­dents of St Joseph’s Pri­mary School, War­ragul have im­mersed them­selves in the in­quiry ap­proach to learn­ing, which has in­cor­po­rated STEM, dur­ing term three.

STEM is the com­bi­na­tion of Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics. The chil­dren be­gan their unit of work with a visit to Gum­buya World to see the im­prove­ments and the ‘be­hind the scenes’ as­pects of run­ning a theme park.

They stud­ied as­pects re­lated to roller coast­ers in­clud­ing po­ten­tial and ki­netic en­ergy, the forces of grav­ity, cen­tripetal forces, clothoid loops, G forces, fric­tion, mag­netism, ve­loc­ity and ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The stu­dents read about the his­tory of the roller coaster and ex­plored the im­prove­ments of theme parks over the years.

They looked at geo­graph­i­cal and fi­nan­cial rea­sons why theme parks are lo­cated in cer­tain parts of Aus­tralia and through­out the world. They also stud­ied the aes­thet­ics of theme parks and how they at­tract cus­tomers, in ad­di­tion to eth­i­cal de­ci­sions made to make theme parks safe, ac­ces­si­ble and in­clu­sive.

The stu­dents were given two projects to be com­pleted in groups.

The first project was to de­sign and con­struct two roller coaster car­riages that could be cou­pled to­gether and make the jour­ney down the ramp that each class had in their room.

There were many hours of sketch­ing, draw­ing la­belled di­a­grams, tech­ni­cal draw­ings, re­design­ing, con­struct­ing, test­ing, analysing, mak­ing changes and fi­nally de­vel­op­ing the fi­nal prod­uct. One of the ramps was equipped with an Ar­duino mi­cro­con­troller which was able to mea­sure the fi­nal ve­loc­ity of each roller coaster to the mi­crosec­ond.

The sec­ond project the chil­dren were given was to pro­gram a Sphero ro­bot us­ing their iPads and sim­ple block cod­ing to nav­i­gate around a course with pre­de­ter­mined ob­sta­cles.

The Sphero needed to com­plete a 360de­gree ro­ta­tion, be off the ground for at least five sec­onds, pass through a struc­ture that can hold at least two kilo­grams of weight, and fi­nally drop off a struc­ture and land in an ab­sorbent ma­te­rial.

The chil­dren en­joyed learn­ing how to code a ro­bot and were con­tin­u­ally re­quired to use their logic, prob­lem solv­ing skills and a lot of per­sis­tence to achieve a goal.

Dur­ing term two the stu­dents ex­per­i­mented with a con­struc­tion kit called Makedo.

A set of plas­tic screws, screw­drivers and saws en­abled the chil­dren to build ob­jects out of card­board. The chil­dren were re­quired to build a con­trap­tion that would be able to hold their drink bot­tles off the ground or ta­ble. This was a great start to learn­ing the prin­ci­ples of de­sign and con­struc­tion and learn about some en­gi­neer­ing ideas.

One of the classes cre­ated a model of a theme park.

Most of the ma­te­ri­als used came from pack­ag­ing and the Re­verse Art Truck in Narre War­ren, a coun­cil-based re­source with a fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity.

Through­out the term each child kept a jour­nal of their learn­ing, which were also on dis­play at the Expo.

In the jour­nal there were en­tries such as sci­en­tific un­der­stand­ings, po­etry, his­tor­i­cal facts, let­ters re­quest­ing Baw Baw Shire to con­struct a roller coaster in War­ragul, read­ing com­pre­hen­sion ex­er­cises, note tak­ing, la­belled di­a­grams, pie charts, de­sign ideas and artis­tic work.

“I liked how we got to ap­ply our math­e­mat­ics knowl­edge of an­gles when com­plet­ing the Sphero Chal­lenge,” Cooper Pat­ter­son said.

“I en­joyed the whole de­sign and con­struc­tion process in­volved with build­ing our roller coaster car­riages,” Finn Shee­han said.

“I learnt how an axle works and how they can help your wheels move,” Sap­phire Wells said.

“I liked the de­sign process, do­ing the sketches and the la­belled di­a­grams for our car­riages,” Stella Den­nis said.

“I en­joyed do­ing the cod­ing for the Spheros and work­ing in a team to build the ob­sta­cles”, Char­lie van Ros­sum said.

“Dur­ing this unit of in­quiry I had many op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop my group work skills such as us­ing other peo­ple’s good ideas for our team goals,” An­gus Dunsmuir said.

Be­low left: Build­ing an en­tire theme park from sec­ond hand ma­te­ri­als took about eight weeks. Heat Mc­Carthy and Macken­zie Heenan said they learnt a lot about mea­sure­ments

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