I had the opportunity to visit Mrs. Heaton’s 5th grade GT / advanced learning class at Willow Creek Elementary this afternoon with one goal in mind… To learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion. The class is currently reading October Sky by Homer Hickam. As part of the study, Mrs. Heaton builds on the science concepts within the story to create a number of great hands-on science lessons. Every good teacher tries to build a mental image of the story or fact that they’re teaching, and the name “Wayne Newton” just popped out during the first part of the lesson. I tried to convince the students that Wayne Newton was Isaac Netwon’s brother who was better at singing than he was at science. Fortunately, only a few bought into the story! There will be some interesting conversation around the dinner table this evening. In an attempt to learn about Newton’s First and Third Laws, the students participated in a number of hands-on activities including the hex nut in the bottle trick.
What makes this study so different is the way Lisa Heaton masterfully combines literature and hands-on science. Last year’s class concluded their study by making and launching a variety of rockets. Of course, many failed on the launch pad, but the students went back to the drawing board and discovered by trial and error what worked and what didn’t. Watch the movie from last year’s experiments or browse some pictures. Imagine the students’ surprise when Homer Hickam’s wife, Linda, posted a comment on Mrs. Heaton’s blog and even sent an autographed picture and a letter from the author.
As a homework assignment, each of the students in this year’s class were asked to post a comment on this blog post explaining today’s “experience” in class. Emily performed the tablecloth trick (demonstrating Newton’s First Law of Inertia) masterfully!