In this lesson, students will build a ramp out of a pool noodle and use it to launch a marble across the room. Students will investigate by adjusting the height and slope of the ramp and record their findings on a data sheet. Students will practice collecting and analyzing data and will investigate the importance of performing repeated experimental trials. Students will practice converting metric units of distance as well as the addition and division of decimals to find the mean of a small data set.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
SC.5.N.1.1 – Collection of Data:
Why is it important for scientists to collect and represent their data?
SC.5.N.1.3 – The need for repeated trials:
How would the validity of your experiment results improve if you repeated the experiment multiple times?
MAFS.5.NBT.2.7 - Operations on decimals:
How could you represent the average distance traveled by your marble?
How does the height of the end of the ramp impact the distance that the marble travels?
Introduction: How will the teacher introduce the lesson to the students?
Display the procedure required to complete the experiment and demonstrate the experiment.
Model the proper methods for measuring and then the recording and representing of the data.
The teacher needs to be explicit in how students should measure, recording a decimal only to the hundredths place.
Investigate: What question(s) will students be investigating? What process will students follow to collect information that can be used to answer the question(s)?
Which grouping of books worked the best to achieve the greatest distance the marble traveled?
You want to guide students to create an apparatus where the marble is "launched" and the students are measuring how far the marble travels based upon where the marble lands the first time.
Use tape to attach a pool noodle to a table.
Bend the bottom portion of the pool noodle upward.
Slide the designated number of books under the end of the ramp in order to adjust the angle. Adding more books will reduce the slope of the ramp and release the marble at a greater height.
It is suggested that 2, 4, and 6 books are used to vary the ramp slope. The number of books used may need to be adjusted depending on their size; it is most important that each level is at a significantly different angle. If the books are larger, fewer will be needed, etc. All students should follow the same procedure.
Try to set the ramp so that the end of the noodle is even with the edge of the books. This will simplify measuring the distance the marble travels.
Designate a start point on each noodle. This must also be the same for all groups.
Have a spotter ready to point out the exact place in which the marble first lands.
Release the marble by inserting it into the hole that runs through the center of the noodle.
Measure the distance from the edge of the books to the point that the marble first hits the floor.
Record the measurement in centimeters on your data chart.
Repeat this procedure three times for each of the different ramp heights.
Analyze: How will students organize and interpret the data collected during the investigation?
Pause students and discuss with them the methods for finding the average for each grouping of books. Draw students' attention to the row of sample data on the data table.
Students should convert their measurements that were taken (centimeters) into meters and record these calculations in the data table.
Students will then add the measurements (meters) from the three trials and record this calculation in the data table.
Students then divide this total by 3 to find the average distance traveled from the three trials.
Next, have them analyze the data by determining which grouping of books caused the marble to travel the farthest.
Have students record a concluding statement: "The marble traveled farthest when the ramp was set on top of [2/4/6] books. This was because..." They should be sure to include actual numbers from their investigation in their concluding statement.
Closure: What will the teacher do to bring the lesson to a close? How will the students make sense of the investigation?
Students will participate in a class discussion to share, compare and contrast their findings. Did groups have similar findings? What might have caused differences between the groups? Possible causes for variations in groups' data include how closely they followed the procedure, how accurately they measured their distances, and other variables not accounted for in the experiment.
Address any concerns with the calculations of decimals and conversions. Students should record their work for their calculations of the results they have in their data table.
A portion of the student summative assessment is included in the student data page. Students will have to analyze their data and provide a concluding statement. In addition, they have a final summative question asking about the importance of completing repeated trials. Possible answer for the last question on the student data page: It is important to have repeated trials of the same experiment to increase the accuracy and validity of the results. It also helps to ensure that any mistakes made during an experiment don't affect the conclusion that is drawn from the data.
There is also a summative assessment sheet in which students analyze sample data from another class. Refer to the answer key for acceptable responses.
While students are conducting their experiment, the teacher will be circulating the room asking questions to assess their understanding.
For each of your trials, were your results the same, or were they different?
Did you expect that every trial would have the same results? Why or why not?
Who do you have to record your data?
Why do you think we are having you record your data in cm? Why are we converting to meters?
Feedback to Students
The teacher will be able to determine students' level of understanding based on their responses to the guiding questions.
If the majority of the class has misconceptions, the teacher should make note and address them in the final discussion. Because of the nature of this standard, the teacher wouldn't need to stop the experiment to address a misconception.
Accommodations & Recommendations
A step-by-step experiment procedure should be displayed on the board for students to follow.
Refer students back to the demonstration that was executed at the start of the lesson or display the schematic drawings provided.
Ensure that students have a basic grasp on the vocabulary presented in the lesson. For your ELL students, have a picture or an example written down next to the vocabulary word so they can make an association.
If students are struggling with finding the mean, complete an "I do, we do, you do" model for each of the different trials. For example, you would walk the students through how to calculate the answers for 2 books. Next, the student would work with a partner to calculate the totals or answers for 4 books. A touch point could be taken based upon their independent work for the 6 books portion.
If students easily grasp the concepts and finish early, provide them with a twist. Tell them they have to hit a designated target, either a spot on the floor or a cup, using different materials of their choosing. They may change the apparatus in any way to reach the desired effect. They must conduct three successful trials for their modified ramp to be considered successful.
If you wanted to do this as a whole class extension, follow the steps above and then have groups write a procedure that another group could use to replicate their findings.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera
Special Materials Needed:
Pool noodles cut in half—cut in a way in which marbles could pass underneath tape (1 per group)
Marbles that will fit in the pool noodle track
Multiple books of the same size
Student Data Sheets (see attachments)
Desk or Table
Summative Assessment (see attachments)
Cup or tape marker (for extension only)
You should build and test your demonstration setup prior to executing this lesson.
Classroom make-up and dynamics might have to be adjusted for the completion of this activity.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Chad Crary, Jennifer Lilly, Joann Vukobratovich
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Collier, Collier