On Friday, August 23rd, sixth graders in Mrs. Paige Lawson's science class participated in a hands-on inquiry lesson that helped them understand scientific laws and how they differ from societal laws. Mrs. Lawson began the lesson with a bell ringer that asked students to brainstorm all the laws they know about an egg. After briefly sharing their ideas, Mrs. Lawson told students about a societal law in California that prevents the commercial selling of eggs from caged hens. Students discussed the rationale and implications of such a law, which then led into a discussion about the difference between societal and scientific laws.
Mrs. Lawson then reminded students about Newton's first law of motion. Students got to test Newton's first law in a series of six trials that involved spinning an egg and then observing what happens when its motion is stopped. Students first defined the procedures for the experiment, then took turns coming to the front of the room, spinning the egg beneath the document camera. As a student volunteer spun the egg for four rotations, stopping it with an index finger, the rest of the class noted their observations. For the first three trials, the egg kept spinning after it was stopped. After the third trial, Mrs. Lawson switched the egg, and it no longer spun once stopped. Students noted the differences with the new egg and pondered their significance. Students brainstormed that perhaps one of the eggs had a thicker shell or a different yolk thickness or even a different temperature. After exploring ideas, Mrs. Lawson asked a student to crack the second egg, only for the class to discover that it was actually hard boiled. This led into a discussion about conditions for the law of motion and differences between states of matter. Throughout the lesson, Mrs. Lawson productively engaged students by activating their inquiry skills.
To close out the lesson, students completed an exit ticket, asking them to identify differences between scientific and societal laws, to consider why it is important to consider specific conditions of a scientific law, and to ponder whether or not scientific and societal laws ever change and why. Sixth grade students maximized their critical thinking skills in Mrs. Lawson's class last Friday.
Headline picture: Mrs. Lawson leads students in defining the procedures for the experiment.
Student volunteer Rhiannon Fountain takes a turn spinning and stopping an egg, as her classmates record their observations.
Students share their thoughts about the conditions for the the law of motion.