Glider Building

The challenge was to build a balsa glider that could be launched by rubber bands from a table carrying a GI Joe action figure. The winning glider actually travelled 440 inches. Here are a few pictures of our students building the gliders.

Real World Science

Tsunamis and earthquakes have new meaning for my students. Many have a new appreciation for the importance of knowing about plate tectonics - and more that one of my students knew more about the source of a tsunami than their parents.
what a terrible thing that sometimes real world science also means real world suffering.

High Flying Elementary Students

My 4th and 5th grade Aeronautics Club members recently visited the Lockheed Martin facility here in Orlando in celebration of national Engineers Week. We were invited to compete as the only elementary school against Middle and High School students in a competition called SeeJoeGo. We were to build a 24 inch glider that would hold a five inch GI Joe figurine launched by rubber band off a table. The object was to see which glider would fly the farthest. We built and brought five gliders to the event.
Amazingly, our gliders out flew all of the competition and we swept 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards! Our students had an incredible understanding of lift, angle of attack, design components, and Bernoulli's Principle of lift.

Aeronautics Clubs

For the past two years we have placed renewed emphasis on the concept of flight. To enhance the experience we created the Camelot Flyers. Aeronautics Clubs open to our fourth and fifth graders. Under the direction of myself and an incredible parent volunteer (who is an expert RC pilot), our students have learned how to build and fly a variety of radio controlled airplanes. We work with balsa or styrofoam to create electic motor trainers,gliders, and "slow stick airplanes". Through grants and donations we currently have three flight simulators, eight planes with at least 36 or greater wing spans and four radio transmitters. More information will be coming in the future.

Morning launch of Space Shuttle STS 131

It's 6:35 am EST and I just came in from my front yard where I was watching the STS 131 Shuttle launch. Absolutely perfect - could see the glow of the external tanks drop! Most perfect conditions in years. I was even out early enough to see the Space Station pass over (looked like a plane flying under the moon) minutes before the launch. Only three more launches left.

How do we fund all of this?

I get asked this a lot. Part of the answer is grant writing. For the last five years I've been able to bring in around $2500 by submitting local, district and national grants. An example is the Air Force Association Educator's grant that we recently were awarded. The amount is $250 which we will use to purchase model rocket kits, rocket engines and airplane supplies. This is the third year we have received this grant. I spend a couple of hours a week in the evening surfing for grants. Never assume you can't get money - it's there.

Our school doesn't provide supplies or materials for my program. I get some money for my annual science night and to register our Science Olympiad competitions. All of the materials you see in the pictures are my personal materials. Unfortunately I do spend a great deal of my own money, but like so many of you, it is the price you pay to teach the way you feel is the most effective. Look for more funding ideas in the future.

A quick Science Lab update

After a very cold and windy winter we are finally catching up. Though Florida wasn't covered in snow, we have suffered this winter. Our school garden was almost completely destroyed - too many hard freezes! Our fifth grade garden club is quickly cleaning, weeding and replanting. Pictures to follow.
Our two aeronautic clubs have now built four remote controlled airplanes. Our planes are electric powered and use Lipo batteries similar to those used in cell phones. We practice on our flight simulator regularly and are now in the process of issuing a "Camelot Pilot License" to students who have proven successful with the simulator, can identify the parts of a plane and transmitter, and have a good understanding of flight. These students will now begin to fly our remote controlled airplanes on a "buddy box" (think drivers education) under the supervision of our parent volunteer. Look for pictures and videos which will be following shortly.


Happy New Year! Good bye "aughts" hello 2K10. Finally, mathematical slang! So many wonderful new things to learn about and share regarding elementary science. Briefly - I am so proud of my science clubs this year:
Our two Aerospace clubs, the Camelot Knight Flyers have completed their first remote controlled plane and we will send it on it's first flight this Thursday. A special thanks to Mr. Moses Alicea, our gifted parent volunteer that provides the knowledge and expertise which is allowing our fourth and fifth graders to build and fly these wonderful planes! Pictures to follow.
My garden club has begun construction and has create plans to expand our garden once again! I see garden sculpture, rows of vegetables, and many wind chimes in our future.
The Camelot Science Olympians are going strong as our two teams of fourth and fifth graders prepare for problem solving competitions beginning in the very near future. 2010 pomise to bring even more excitement!

A new look at class rules

I recently reread an old favorite - Ready, Set, Science by Michaels, Shouse and Schweingruber (National Research Council) and came upon something that I have immediately posted and talked about with my students. I invite you to look it over and consider this thoughtful alternative to "class rules".

Student Rights
You have the right to make a contribution to an attentive, responsive audience.
You have the right to ask questions.
You have the right to be treated civilly.
You have the right to have your ideas discussed, not you, personally.

Student Obligations
You are obligated to speak loudly enough for others to hear.
You are obligated to listen for understanding.
You are obligated to agree or disagree (and explain why) in response to other people’s ideas.

A Garden Update

Last year our garden club wrote a grant and created rain barrels to irrigate our garden. Each of the barrels was placed under and air conditioner attached to the row of portable classrooms across from our garden. Well life in an elementary school always requires flexibility! This week the last of those portable classrooms was moved off of our campus. My science lab is one of two remaining.
So we adapted and our new garden club has begun to place barrels in the center of each of our raised beds. We will still catch rain water, but through measurements begun at the start of the year, the students have come to realize exactly how much rain it takes to fill a 55 gallon rain barrel with direct precipitation and no additional run off. I believe Noah was brought up in the conversation!
However, we can fill these barrels, attach small soaker hoses and water each bed more efficiently. Less water will be required than using sprinklers, a deeper soaking will result in greater growth, and we have learned a great deal more about gardening and problem solving. I encourage everyone to make a rain barrel (for home or school) and enjoy the benefits of rain collection. And for my northern friends, please share with us how they work with snow!

The Giving Tree

Teaching in the south provides a multitude of problems when teaching the change in seasons. It doesn’t snow in Florida and we don’t have many colored leaves in the fall. Also we have birds living with us year round. Plus our literature doesn’t help much since it is typically not written for tropic climates. However you can overcome the stereotypes by adopting a tree on your campus.
At the beginning of the school year, in the heat of September, take blankets outside and lie down under a tree on your campus. Draw pictures of what you see – the leaves, squirrels, birds and insects. Record the sounds you hear and take pictures of what you see - digital cameras now make this so easy to download and share. Use twine to place a circle on the ground around the canopy of the tree and observe everything living under the tree. Create a population study by counting the various families of living things seen. Each month pay a visit to the tree. You will begin to notice that different kinds of birds come and go; the leaves will begin to change colors; and the population of insects change. Each month add a new population graph to your scrapbook.
By the end of the year you will have documented a year of change. You will see the gradual changes of insect and bird populations, changes in leaf and bark coloration, temperature changes, and precipitation levels. Conducting long range studies is an important part of becoming scientists. There are seasons in the Deep South, but sometimes you just have to go out and look for the changes.