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4th Grade Science

The 4th grade is currently learning about energy systems.  They are using hands-on investigations to understand the relationship between the speed of an object and the energy of the object.   They have learned that energy is conserved as it is transferred, and that changes in energy occur when objects collide. They will also be exploring energy and fuels that are derived from natural resources and how their uses affect the environment.  This will lead to conversations about alternative energy sources and the pros and cons that are considered in decision making processes.  

One of the many investigations in this unit is called “On a Collision Course.” This investigation has students creating car ramps using books, matchbox cars and tracks.  Students release one car from different ramp heights to test the cause and effect relationships between gravitational potential energy and the conversion into kinetic energy, as measured by how far a car travels down the ramp.  They have learned the importance of using the same materials and why scientists do multiple trials, to ensure accuracy. 

Another investigation, “Let it Fly,” has the students creating ruler rockets to discover that rubber bands that are stretched a longer distance contain more elastic potential energy. As the rubber band restores to normal length, the elastic energy is transferred to the ruler. The more stretched the rubber band, the farther the ruler travels on the string.  One student stated, “I liked this experiment because it wasn’t just one thing to do.  Everything was open ended and interesting.  We got to launch a rocket that we can personally make with two rulers.” 

Throughout the science curriculum students are creating claims and using the investigations as supporting evidence.  “I think the hot wheels car experiment was connected to the launching rocket because both lessons taught about energy and movement.  I really liked how everyone was able to launch it, and a couple failed, but we just tried again.”  These investigations are a part of the updated PNW BOCES 4th grade science curriculum.