What’s New with the Beta Crew?!

January brings not only a new year, but a new theme as well!!


** Simple Machines!! **

We will spend the quarter learning how to think like a scientist!

* Scientists carry out investigations to find how the world works.

* Scientists look for answers, ask questions, design investigations, and think about more questions to test.


IMG_4591 (2) IMG_4745

The Beta’s took a survey- I Could be a Scientist!- and sure enough, these guys are ready for some science fun!

When asked- What do you know about simple machines, and how do they make our life better?- we got many answers.


                        They are robots        They need batteries                  It has a motor


Whelp,  we now have our place to start!  And that place is the basics.  Every scientist needs to learn a few basics to help with the bigger questions.  And that is what week one was all about!

Our goal this quarter is for each Beta scientist to create a Rube Goldberg inspired machine, so we wasted no time and got right down to business!!

Check out these Rube Goldberg inspired machines http://coolmaterial.com/roundup/rube-goldberg-machines/


Day 1- Motion and Velocity


IMG_4593 (2) IMG_4592 (1)

    How do we know that an object is still or moving?

This is a deceptively difficult question to answer, especially for a kiddo!  Talk about it with your child.  How do you answer this question?

We used a marble and placed it on a starting line, giving it a gentle push.  What happened?  How far did it move? (Ahh, measurement involved.  Funny, we are studying this in math!)

Now try it again and this time find the velocity.

We learned that velocity tells how fast an object is moving.  So we timed our moving marble as well as measuring it’s distance.  Important stuff to know when creating your own simple machine!

Day 2- May the Forces be with you!

The forces of push and pull that is.  And we threw in a little inertia for good measure!


IMG_4769 (1) IMG_4765

A force is a push or pull.  A force makes an object move, stop, or change direction.  When something moves, a force makes it move.

After learning what a push/pull force is,we thought we would try it.  We pushed and pulled small things, big things, light things heavy things.  We even partnered up and each pushed on object on opposite sides with the same force to see what would happen and recorded our findings.  


Was it easier to push some things and pull others?


We also answered the question “Why do we need to wear a seat-belt?” by investigating inertia.

Objects tend to keep doing what they are doing unless a force acts on them (Newton’s First Law!)

We took a toy car and placed a washer on top and gave it a gentle push into our travel journals.  

What happened? 

The car stopped, but the washer kept going.


We aren’t going to tell you!  Ask your kiddo!!

Day 3- What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Gravity (& Friction)!


IMG_4779 IMG_4780

If we can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch gravity, how do we know it exists??

Gravity is the force that pulls all objects to the Earth.  

In this investigation the kiddos used their observational skills to learn about the different mass (weight) in objects and their force of gravity that pulls them down.

And then ordered the objects from lightest to heaviest.


Want to learn more about the amazing Isaac Newton? 

Visit this kid friendly website.  It even has a quiz!



IMG_4633 (1)

What happens when you rub your hands together?


IMG_4631 (1) IMG_4632 (1)

We discovered that friction is a force that stops or slows objects in motion.

Rough surfaces have more friction than smooth surfaces.

The greater the friction, the more force needed to move an object.

We tested the theory using a piece of a brick and a spring scale that records in Newtons. (Hey, we’ve heard that name before!)

We pulled the brick on a smooth surface and a rough surface and observed the amount of force it took to  move the object.


IMG_4635 (1) IMG_4634 (1)

We even discussed and experimented with ways to lessen the friction.  One way to do that when rubbing your hands together is to add a dab of lotion.

Hey!  It worked!  It was much easier to rub our hands together!

It was also easier to pull the brick across the table with dish soap spread around under it.  We measured with our spring scale.  It took fewer Newtons to pull the brick using a lubricant!




Over the next couple of weeks we will continue our investigations of simple machines before we set the kids free to not only work as scientists work, but as inventors as well, as they create new inventions with projects in the classroom as well as at home!


Betas and the Candy Factory!


IMG_4614 (2) IMG_4612 (1)

Our read aloud this quarter is a favorite- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! by Roald Dahl

What a fantastic book to get our scientists thinking about simple machines.  AND to turn on those amazing imaginations and combine science, reading and writing by creating their own candy factory!

This week the kids warmed up their candy writing skills by writing about their favorite candy.

What does it look like?           How does it taste?                 What does it feel like?

This warm up will get them ready to invent, and write about, a new candy of their own creation.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it!!


IMG_4598 (2) IMG_4760 IMG_4615 (1) IMG_4617 (2) IMG_4638 (1)

And of course our language arts block, wouldn’t be complete without our favorite activities- Words Their Way, building words with our phonics center, writing and sharing our stories during Writing Workshop, and our newest addition- The Fabulous Five.

The Fabulous Five- Each kiddo chooses 5 words per week that they feel are important to learn to spell correctly.  We practice these words throughout the week in many different ways.  One of the favorites- playdoh writing!

Want to read more about why Writing Workshop is so awesome?

Check out this short slideshow.


Measuring Maniacs in Math

IMG_4601 (2) IMG_4599 (1)

The Betas are crazy about measuring- learning both customary and metric- using different tools.  What’s right for the job?  They can let you know!

This practice will directly relate to skills needed in creating their machines this quarter, so measure away!

Challenge: Measure 10 things in your house using both inches and centimeters, feet and meters. It’s fun!


IMG_4620 (2) IMG_4621 (3) IMG_4623 (2) IMG_4628 (1)

Exploring RAMROD

“The game of Ramrod combines the ability to know all facts for each number family with strategic thinking.  In this game students must plan ahead to construct “RAMROD”
(addend) combinations of two rods that complete a rectangular (sum) box length in the playing area of the gameboard.
Such (addend) combinations result in captures that relate to the game goal of being the first to complete their 24 cm
rectangular region of the gameboard. The ability to associate each of the colored rods with their corresponding number
value facilitates students’ skill to mentally compute all of the facts for each number family represented on the gameboard.”

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Not to this group!

These games stimulate creative thinking while developing problem-solving skills. A focus on conceptual understanding and the integration of spatial, computational and logical reasoning are key attributes of Mathematics Pentathlon.

And that’s why we love it!

Before we officially play a new game, we take some time to investigate and create with the pieces.  A “getting to know you” moment before jumping in to the real deal.  For this game it is imperative the kiddos understand  that each rod and color represent a different size.  And you can create a certain length using many different rods in many different combinations.

And this group picked it up speedy-quick!

We can never get enough of Math Pentathlon!

If your kiddo would like to sign up for the Math Pentathlon Tournament on April 18th Sign up here:


Coming Up:

January 12th-15th- Civil Rights Week

January 14th- Board Meeting 7:00

January 19th- Martin Luther King Day- No School

January 22nd- Shipe Park Day

January 24th- Skate Party 10:00-12:00

Filed January 10th, 2015.