Reinventing the Wheel (and axle)

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Our grade one students are half way through their six week unit about forces and motion, and they’ve begun to encounter design challenges with their toys. One of the biggest challenges has been wheel design. At first, students taped toilet paper rolls to the bottoms of their vehicles, but immediately noticed they didn’t roll. The toys could move, but not easily. We began to look at other toys with wheels to see if they could provide us with any clues as to how they rolled on their own. So far, students have come up with two solutions to overcome their first design flaws:

  • using a straw with a stick inside (pictured above)
  • cutting holes into their vehicles and inserting the axles into them

There are now some students who have become the experts in the grade, and are showing others how to use their new design idea. Moving forward, the goal is to use this expert model to help students arrive at new understandings within the unit.

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