Brevard Make and Take fast conference, Oct. 24-26, 2013 Designing Effective Inquiry

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Brevard Make and Take

FAST Conference, Oct. 24-26, 2013

Designing Effective Inquiry

DISCREPANT EVENT #3: Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Big idea:

Big Idea 1 – The Practice of Science

Big Idea 2 – The Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge

Big Idea 7- Earth Systems and Structures

Big Idea 13- Forces and Changes In Motion


NGSSS Science

  • SC.5.N.1.1 Define a problem, use appropriate reference materials to support scientific understanding, plan and carry out scientific investigations of various types such as: systematic observations; experiments requiring the identification of variables; collecting and organizing data; interpreting data in charts, tables, and graphics; analyze information; make predictions; and defend conclusions.

  • SC.5.N.1.5 Recognize and explain that authentic scientific investigation frequently does not parallel the steps of “the scientific method.”

  • SC.5.N.1.6 Recognize and explain the difference between personal opinion/interpretation and verified observation.

  • SC.5.N.2.1 Recognize and explain that science is grounded in empirical observations that are testable; explanation must always be linked with evidence

  • SC.5.N.2.2 Recognize and explain that when scientific investigations are carried out, the evidence produced by those investigations should be replicable by others.

  • SC.5.E.7.3 Recognize how air temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation determine the weather in a particular place and time.

  • SC.5.P.13.1 Identify familiar forces that cause objects to move, such as pushes or pulls, including gravity acting on falling objects.

  • SC.5.P.13.4 Investigate and explain that when a force is applied to an object but it does not move, it is because another opposing force is being applied by something in the environment so that the forces are balanced.


CCSS (ELA and Math)

  • Mathematical Practice 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

  • Mathematical Practice 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

  • Mathematical Practice 5: Use appropriate tools strategically.

  • Mathematical Practice 6: Attend to precision.

  • MACC.4.MD.1.1 Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb., oz.; l, ml; hr., min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table.

  • MACC.1.MD.2.2 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.

  • LACC.4.RI.1.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  •  LACC.4.RI.1.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • LACC.4.SL.1.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • LACC.4.SL.1.3: Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.

  • LACC.5.SL.1.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • LACC.5.RI.1.3 Explain the relationship or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • LACC.5.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

Learning Goals:

Through a series of discrepant events, students will utilize experimentation to understand how differing forces affect matter. By following experimentation steps, students will have a deeper understanding of

  • The weather process and how it is affected by air pressure

  • That forces affect matter and cause change

  • Repeated experimentation leads to clarification of natural phenomena

  • Evidence requires recording accurate observations

DISCREPANT EVENT #3: Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Guiding Questions:

Guiding questions are broad questions that the teacher can use to “guide” the student learning process and can be revisited at any point in the lesson.
Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Which force has the ability to cause objects to overcome gravity?

Prior Knowledge:

Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Students should be able understand that investigations include repeated observations, modeling, and scientific experimentation.

Students should be able to keep records of observations that are made. Students use these observations to make inferences.

Recognize, investigate, and describe that energy has the ability to cause motion or create change

Students will be able to explain how water or air are sources of energy and can be used to move things.

Classroom Management:

Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Students should have interactive science notebooks to record their observations, inferences, experimentation process, and record evidence.

Students should be partnered with another student in small groups of four. Kagan strategies in pairing students and providing structures for movement and engagement would provide optimum student involvement.
Careful discussion that ping-pong balls are not to be placed in mouth as it can be deemed a choking hazard. Depending on proximity and location, eye wear safety would be necessary only if students were facing opposing sides. Students should not have their faces near the cup area unless they are blowing air over the cup.
Materials can be prepared per two students in a Ziploc bag.


Jumping Ping Pong Balls Materials
Ping pong ball – per participant

2- 6 oz. plastic cups

Ruler or meter stick

Tape (to hold cups in place)

Notebook materials


Jumping Ping Pong Balls
Students will be asked the question in the form of a probe:
What will happen if you blow air onto the ball in the cup? Does it matter how you blow air (air pressure) on the ball in the cup? Choose an answer that best fits your thinking. Explain how you came up with this reasoning.

  1. The ball will spin in the cup.

  2. The ball will bounce out of the cup.

  3. The ball will bounce up and down in the cup

  4. The ball will move slightly, remaining in the cup

Students will commit to an answer by writing it on a half sheet of paper with an explanation.

Students will share their answers using a Kagan 4 Corner structure (teambuilding, inquiry generating, thinking, communication, information sharing)

4 Corners

Students move to different corners of the room, depending on their point of view. This activity may help them see that not everyone shares the same point of view, and it may stretch their own way of thinking.
1. The teacher announces “corners.” Then she announces the choices for each corner of the room. (Locations for choices A, B, C, and D

2. Teacher tells students to go to their chosen corners. Once they are in their corner, they must find a partner to talk with – someone not on their regular team.

4. Pairs will then discuss the reason(s) for their choice. Teacher will then select a few students from each corner to share what his or her partner shared.

5. Students will listen to the answers of the other answer choices, writing notes from their responses.

6. Students will be given the opportunity to change their thinking


Jumping Ping Pong Balls Procedures

  1. Place the two plastic cups 3 inches apart.

  2. Place one ping pong ball into one of the plastic cups.

  3. Blow air over the ping pong ball.

  4. Record observations after each blowing of air, including how much and force used.

  5. Observe the ball leap out of the cup into the other cup.

  6. Repeat


Jumping Ping Pong Balls- the science


As you blow air over the cup, pressure builds up in the bottom of the cup in-front of the ping-pong ball and forces the ball out of the cup. The area where you are blowing creates low pressure outside of the cup and forces the ball into a path towards the other cup. The ping-pong ball travels along the path of the low pressure flow.


Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Students will extend the experimentation process to include moving the cups to differing distances and testing whether (a) differing amounts of air and/or (b) differing forces of air affects a change in the movement of the ping-pong ball.
Students will consider how different air pressure affects weather systems, giving examples.

What happens when high and low pressure systems interact in nature?


Diagnostic and/or formative assessments are embedded within the lesson for the purpose of identifying preconceptions and driving instruction so the students have increased opportunities to learn the important ideas related to the topic.

Jumping Ping Pong Balls

Educative Assessment:

Students will write 5 observational statements using evidence from the activity. Students will then make evidence-based inferences using these observations. Students draw links to weather.

Summative Assessment:

Students will draw inferences as to the relationships with weather and air pressure with how the differing positions of the cups were affected by how much wind and pressure were present. Students will create 2-3 different models explaining the variables and possible outcomes based upon their prior experimentation.

Students will draw a weather system with captions indicating what is happening and why.

Submitted by: Patricia Galbreath and Sonia Larrabee, Volusia County Schools

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