Online Science!

Want to learn some science and play games at the same time?  Then check out some if these science game-based learning sites!

 

Detective Science Games

There are lots of professions that are based on science.  Play the role of a secret agent in a number of important cases that test your knowledge of science topics such as friction, gravity, magnets, electricity, chemistry, plants, microorganisms, life cycles and more. Have fun saving the day while learning cool facts, solving problems and improving your science skills at the same time, can you complete all the activities? Give them a try and find out!

 

 

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Fantastic Contraption is a physics based puzzle game that will keep you entertained for hours.  You will need to use the design process and trial and error to solve each puzzle.  It starts out with some easy puzzles, but they quickly turn more difficult.  If you make it through Fantastic Contraption try Fantastic Contraption 2.

 

 

Go to Physics Games to find lots of different games dealing with the laws of physics.  Some are easy, others are very challenging.  Test your skills in the laws of physics at physicsgames.net

 

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Science Museum from the United Kingdom has some fun and challenging science base games.

 

 

 

Cool Math/Science Games.  Lots of math and science games here!

Even more science based games and learning tutorials to be found at PrimaryGames.

 

SSIS Meets EAST

Models of Pygmy Loris in actual size create by 1st graders.

Thursday, May 9th was a special day for elementary students and teachers at SSIS.  We had a special guest from the Endangered Animals Species Trust (EAST) named Stephanie Pace.  Ms. Stephanie has been an Education Officer at EAST for the last few years and has been working with SSIS since the 5th grade began taking their annual field trip to Cat Tien National Park as part of our investigations on “ecosystems.”

Ms. Melissa’s class demonstrates that a Pygmy Loris sleeps during the day and it hides in trees and under leaves for protection.

Ms. Stephanie had a busy schedule during her visit as she worked with all of the elementary grades kindergarten through 5th.  EAST has many projects and educational programs that could have been the focus of Ms. Stephanie’s visit; however, she decided to focus on one rehabilitation project centered on a beautiful creature called the Pygmy Loris.  Ms. Stephanie presented at two separate assemblies on the morning of her visit.  One assembly was geared towards the lower elementary and the second was for the upper elementary.  Additionally, Ms. Stephanie worked individually with each of the 1st grade classes where we played educational games, sang songs, and created art projects all centered on conservation efforts concerning the Pygmy Loris.

Many classes drew pictures and wrote reflections about their time spend with Ms. Stephanie.  Here are some quotes from Ms. Perkin’s 2nd grade class reflections:

  • “The Pygmy Loris is endangered and they do not have many of them in the Cat Tien Forest.” –Onejee
  • “They are the only poisonous primate.” –Vincent
  • “People take Pygmy Loris out of the forest so they can sell them.” –Brian
  • “Don’t buy Pygmy Loris as pets or have your photo taken with them. They need to stay in the wild.” -Maegan

5th graders share their “action plan” with Ms. Stephanie and Mr. Sullivan

 

Ms. Stephanie also worked with the 5th grade classes.  Over the last couple of month the 5th graders have been studying ecosystems.  While this unit accompanies many different objectives, the cumulative project for this unit was student created “Endangered Animal Campaigns.”  The 5th graders worked in small groups to research endangered animals in the South East Asia region then created educational campaigns in an attempt to help the preservation of these animals.  Ms. Stephanie reviewed these campaigns then met with the 5th graders to discuss how EAST and other wildlife conservation groups research and create similar campaigns.  Finally, the 5th graders began to develop an “action plan” where they brainstormed ways in which individuals could help these endangered species through actions.  Some of the “actions” included:

 

  • Boycott companies and products that use palm oil because palm oil companies are cutting down forest ecosystems to plant palm tree plantations, in turn destroying the habitat of many endangered species.
  • Boycott Paseo paper products because the fiber they use to make their paper products comes from Sumatran trees that have been harvested from the rainforest.  These rain forests are the only place on Earth where elephants, tigers, and orangutans live together.  All three of these species are endangered.

Lucie, Kamille and Madison from Ms. Heather’s 5th grade class presented Ms. Stephanie with a check for 6.6 million VND.

Three young ladies from Ms. Heather’s 5th grade class were so inspired by the Endangered Animal Campaigns that they took it upon themselves to have a fund raiser to help Cat Tien National Park save one of its species.  Through their research Lucie, Kamille and Madison found out that the population of the spotted linsang in Cat Tien National Park is less than 200 species.  They organized an off campus bake sale that was promoted through SSIS and the PTA.  In about one hour these entrepreneurial ladies raised more than 6.6 million VND selling baked goods and lemonade!  The money was presented to EAST to be shared with Cat Tien National Park in order to help further the protection of the spotted linsang.

EAST is a charity organization based in Vietnam that was founded in 2008.  According to their website, “EAST assists governments to stop the illegal wildlife trade, educate people about Asian wildlife conservation, and supports rehabilitation of endangered Asian primates.”  EAST works with the Vietnamese authorities to rescue endangered primates that have been hunted from the wild.  Most of these are rescued from the pet or tourism trade.  Whenever possible healthy primates are released back into the wild and monitored by specially trained field teams in order to collect information about these endangered primates.  The information collected helps EAST learn more about the ways rehabilitated and newly released primates cope with their new freedom.  This helps EAST continually improve their program and develop government guideline for rehabilitation and release.

SSIS owes great thanks to EAST and Ms. Stephanie for taking the time to come visit us and teach us about some environmental issues here in Vietnam.  We now understand that the illegal wildlife trade is not only a problem worldwide, but it is a problem right here in southern Vietnam.  Please visit the “EAST-BE AWARE” website to learn how you can help prevent illegal wildlife trade.  Visit: http://www.go-east.org/Pages/Be_aware.html#10

 

Wallace’s illustration of a Pygmy Loris.

More information:

Learn more about EAST: http://www.go-east.org/

Learn more about the SSIS 5th grade “Ecosystem” unit: http://www.coetail.com/ssullivan/2013/05/16/course-5-final-presentation/

Boycott Paseo: http://worldwildlife.org/pages/don-t-flush-tiger-forests-report

The Science of Play

I love vacation!  Mostly because I love to play.  Being on holiday frees the mind from many of the normal day-to-day routines that occupy the brain.  Knowing that I don’t have to do anything allows me to be creative about how I’m going to spend my day.  I am much more likely to do things I would not normally choose to do while I am on holiday.  Most likely I will turn off my electronics and go outside and play.  Play is an essential part of childhood development.  Giving children free choices to have fun in their own individual ways are necessary for many reasons.

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According to a University of Michigan study, children spend 50 percent less time outside than they did just 20 years ago — and the 6.5 hours a day they spend with electronic media means that sitting in front of a screen has replaced going outside to play.

Various play research studies make a direct connection from lack of play to worldwide problems such as child obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, childhood depression, classroom behavioral problems and an inability to interact well with peers.

Just an hour a day of vigorous play – running, biking, soccer, tag, anything that get the lungs pumping and the heart thumping – not only provides great health benefits, but it provides intense brain activity and learning skills.  Active children are more poised intellectually and perform better academically in the long term.

 

Stuart Brown, author of Play, How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, states:

Evidence from around the scientific compass — neuroscience, psychology, exercise physiology, sociology and developmental biology — has revealed the importance of play.  Deprive a social mammal like a rat or monkey of its normal rough-and-tumble play and it enters adulthood emotionally fragile, unable to tell friend from foe, poor at handling stress and lacking the skills to mate properly.  From an evolutionary perspective, the smarter the animal, the more they play.  For humans, play reinvigorates us not because it is down time, but because it gets us in touch with our core selves and the joy of life.

 

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Playfulness promotes adaptability.  It encourages us to be flexible, innovative and can help us solve day-to-day problems more effectively.  It is not just an escape, it is active mental engagement that alters and redefines our often narrow view of the world around us.

Just because the holiday is over does not mean “playtime” has to end also.  My goal for this new year is to make sure I take time to play continuously throughout the year and not just during school holidays.  As parents I encourage you to do the same, make sure you are setting a positive example for the children in our SSIS community and allowing ample time for our youth to play.

 

 

Additional Reading:

“Play, Creativity, and Life-long Learning”

“11 (Not So) Surprising Benefits of Play” By Michele Borba

“A ‘Dose of Nature’ for Attention Problem” By Tara Parker-Pope

5th Grade Masters Motion & Design

The SSIS 5th grade team has been studying “Motion & Design” for the last 5 weeks.  This unit allows students the opportunity to explore the physics of motion and to apply concepts of technological design.

Using K’NEX Education “Forces, Energy and Motion” kits, students designed a variety of cars powered by different sources of energy.  A key concept of this unit was creating “fair tests” with one independent variable and accurate measurement and data collection of the dependent variable.  Application of the “design process” was key to the modification of student cars based on collected data in order to achieve improved results of the dependent variable when an experiment is repeated.  Some of the physics concepts explored in the unit included gravity, potential and kinetic energy, friction, and air resistance.  Real life connections to environmental issues were discussed by incorporating alternative sources of energy to power transportation vehicles.  Additionally, students considered transportation safety by designing a car in which a raw egg is placed and rolled down a ramp into a wall.

Students used a variety of technology throughout this unit to gather, record, share and report data and information.  Student blogs were the main mode of information dissemination.

Please have a look at some of our students work.

 

Night Sky Observations

Photo by ClaraDon from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The 4th grade classes are currently studying a science unit called “Sky Watchers.”  As part of this unit we are studying the moon.  Students will be conduction night-sky observations.  Since we are not in school at night, this must be a homework assignment.  As a bridge to what we have been studying in class, students will look for the Moon and other objects in the night sky when they are at home.

To make night-sky observations, take your child outside at about the same time each evening (when it’s dark) and observe the sky.  Take a few minutes to enjoy the night sky together.  Talk about what you see.  For example, if it’s cloudy, you won’t see anything but clouds.  If it’s clear, you will see stars (you might want to point out a constellation or two), planets (points of light that appear larger and brighter than stars), and sometimes the Moon.  Discuss the changes in the night sky from night to night, especially the changing appearance of the Moon, and where it appears in the sky.  Have your child record his or her observations on the Night-Sky Log (sample below).  To complete each day’s log, your child should record the date and time of observations.  Have your child write a few sentences about what he or she observed and draw a picture to show what the Moon looks like.

Thanks for your help!

 

ECAP Paper Airplane Contest

Photo by woodleywonderworks Some rights reserved

Next Tuesday we will have a paper airplane contest.  We will throw our airplanes from the second floor walkway towards the playground.  There will be three categories:

  • Distance – We will measure the distance from the walkway in a straight line towards the playground.  Farthest distance wins.
  • Flight time – We will time the flight from the time you release the plane until it lands on the ground.  Longest flight time wins.
  • Target – We will place a hula hoop on the ground near the closest sideline of the basketball court.  Whatever airplane lands closest to or in the target area wins.

Think of this contest as a science experiment.  We need to have a fair test!

These are the constants:

  • You may have up to three different designs.  But you must use all of the designs you bring to the contest.  For example, you may have one design for distance, one for flight time and one for target.
  • You may use one sheet of A4 paper or less for each airplane.
  • You may use up to two inches of regular tape for each plane.  More that two inches and your plane will be disqualified.
  • You can decorate your plane with color (markers, pencils, crayons), but no other materials besides paper and tape may be used.

The independent variable is your airplane design!

Do some research.  There are lots of different airplane designs out there.  Different designs will have different outcomes.

Watch this video.

Have fun!