RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Thursday, February 16, 2012

RAFT member’s innovative repurposing creates a fun filled take home activity

Here is a creative idea from Arlene Brown, a science teacher at St. Mary's School in Los Gatos:

"Each year I teach my first-graders about weather, and this year I decided to have them build their own rain gauges. I came to RAFT in search of rain gauges, and what I found were giant syringes (with no needles) that turned out to be perfect for this project!  At 17 cents apiece, I was able to have all 36 students create rain gauges for less than 7 dollars.

In class, the students took one look at my sample and knew exactly what to do.  They were very excited about this project! They put a pointed stick in the small end of the syringe to plug the hole and keep the gauge vertical. Now all we needed was rain... thankfully, Mother Nature cooperated by providing a rare rainstorm at just the right time! That night, parents had a great time helping their children set up their rain gauges.  The students could not wait to go out in the morning to see how much water they collected! They eagerly compared their rain readings when they came to school. 

There were many opportunities for learning in this project - the students learned about weather, about measurement, and about how to creatively use everyday objects for a different purposes. The first-graders were curious why rain is measured in "inches" and not by volume.  They learned that we want to know how much rain falls over a large area, and that's why we use inches. If this same project were done with older students, they could determine how many marks on the side of the syringe equal one inch - a practical application of fractions!"

Thanks for sharing your great story, Arlene. You demonstrated what happens so often at RAFT - educators come in with specific needs, and leave with creative, low-cost solutions that make learning fun and memorable.

RAFT invites all teachers to share their stories with us!  Add your comments below:

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