foss science stories - Variables

introduction

The reading selections in FOSS Science Stories are an integral part of the FOSS Variables Module. As such, they integrate reading and language arts skills in the context of learning science concepts.

You will find a variety of reading formats and experiences for your students. Some readings are narrative—fictional stories about science, descriptive writings, biographies, or journal notes. Some are expository—readings that are much like encyclopedia readings or informative articles. Some are technical—giving directions for the construction of something or explaining how something works. And some are historical—readings that give students a glimpse into the past, recalling significant people and events that are part of the rich legacy of science.

The scientifically literate person knows how to read for enjoyment and to get information from a variety of formats. FOSS introduces students to a range of formats as they study science content.

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USING THE READING MATERIALS

The reading materials are designed to be introduced after students have had some experience with the content presented in the module. Because of this design, it is important to plan a reading period around the time students are completing an investigation. For example, in Variables, reading the biographies of important people in the history of aviation is best introduced after students have explored airplanes and the variables that affect flight. By understanding the variables, students better appreciate the significance of each historical event.

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Schedule The Story:

Read this story after completing Investigation 1, Part 1: Exploring Swingers.
Time: 30 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


P.1 - Variables Science Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The toy ducks began their journey just south of the Aleutian Islands.

WHAT SCIENTISTS DO

RELATING THE ARTICLE TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have started to identify factors that might affect the rate of swing of a pendulum. They are beginning to recognize that there are particular procedures necessary in designing an experimental test. This first article explains how scientists go about finding answers to questions that interest them. The article connects the classroom experience with the work of scientists.

READ THE STORY
Give students a few minutes to look at and discuss the cover of the book. Then have them examine and discuss the table of contents.

Tell students that they are going to read an article about scientists and the work they do. Have them read to find out how scientists design tests for getting answers to questions. They should be ready to answer the questions at the end of the reading.

AFTER THE STORY

Have students answer the questions at the end of the story.

What are the steps involved in scientific inquiry? [(1) Make an observation, (2) ask questions based on the observation, (3) state a hypothesis or answer to the question, (4) test the hypothesis by conducting an experiment, (5) observe the results and draw conclusions, (6) communicate the results.]

What is a variable? [A variable is anything that you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome.]

What is important to remember when you conduct a controlled experiment? [You need to control all of the variables, except for the one you are testing.] Then ask,

What do scientists do if their experiment does not confirm their hypothesis? [They make further observations and offer other hypotheses to be tested.]

Instruments help scientists observe or gather data. What instruments help scientists see things they could not normally see? [Microscopes, hand lenses, and telescopes extend the sense of sight.]

What famous experiment performed by Isaac Newton was described in the story? [He used a prism to show that light is made of many colors.]

Is there another way to study the world other than doing controlled experiments? [Yes. Scientists often use observation to learn things about the natural world.]

In the reading which scentist used experimentation and which used observation to answer science questions? [Newton experimented with light; Goodall observed chimpanzees.]

After students read the “Toy Ducks at Sea” sidebar, ask,

How did toy ducks help scientists study the ocean? [An accident at sea spilled 29,000 toy ducks into the ocean. By recording where the ducks washed up on shore scientists learned more about ocean and wind currents.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read this article after completing Investigation 1, Part 3: Predicting Swings.
Time: 30 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.8 - Variables Science Stories

SWINGING THROUGH HISTORY

RELATING THE ARTICLE TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have investigated the factors that might affect how fast a pendulum swings. The pendulum is an important device that has been used to measure time at regular intervals. This article provides a historical perspective on the development and use of the pendulum.

READ THE STORY

Tell students that the pendulum they have been investigating has been studied and used for many centuries. Have them read the article to find out more about pendulums and their development.

AFTER THE STORY

Have students share something they learned from reading the article.
Ask,
 • Who was the first person to think a pendulum could be used as a timekeeper? [Galileo.]

Who was the first person to build such a timekeeper? [Christiaan Huygens.]

Where are you likely to see a pendulum working? [In a grandfather clock.]

What variable affects the number of swings in a given amount of time? [The length of the pendulum.]

What is a controlled experiment? How do such experiments help scientists learn something new? [A controlled experiment is one in which all the variables are controlled except the one being tested; these experiments help scientists determine which variable may be responsible for a given outcome.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read the story after completing Investigation 2, Part 2: Lifeboat Inspection.
Time: 30 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


P.10 - Variables Science Stories

SINK OR SWIM?

RELATING THE ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have been investigating factors that cause containers to float or sink. They have focused on the factor of capacity. This story introduces the concept of density—a body will float in a fluid such as water if its density is less than that of the fluid. Because the density of water is 1 g/cc, any body with a mass of 1 g that displaces less than 1 cc of water will sink.

READ THE STORY

Have students reflect on what caused their lifeboats to sink or float. Tell them that this article provides more information about what causes objects to sink or float. Tell them that an experiment is described at the end of the story. Have them read the story, record the data in their Variables Journal, and predict the outcome of the experiment based on the data.

AFTER THE STORY

Ask students what the data in the story revealed. What predictions did they make about the various materials in the story? Have students compare and discuss their predictions.

What floats and what sinks? How can you tell? [Items or systems less dense than water float; denser items sink.]

Which objects do you think float in water?


[The tar is neutrally buoyant, meaning theoretically it will stay wherever it is placed in the liquid if no turbulence disturbs it.]


Which objects do you think will float in salt water?



[The rubber is neutrally buoyant.]

Why are your predictions different for salt water and fresh water?
[The predictions are different because the liquid in which the objects will be floating has a different density.]

Why does a heavy log float? [As long as the log is less dense than the water surrounding it, it will float.

After a time, logs do fill with water between the wood fibers, making them denser than water, and they eventually sink.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read this story after completing
Investigation 2, Part 3:
Inspecting Other Boats.
Time: 30 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.12 - Variables Science Stories

SCIENCE IN THE BATHTUB

RELATING THE ARTICLE TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have been controlling factors to find out how much mass a paper boat can hold before sinking. This story introduces the concept of displacement by telling a tale about Archimedes, a Greek mathematician and scientist, who was the first to realize that a displaced liquid could tell something about the object placed in it.

READ THE STORY

Tell students that Archimedes was a Greek mathematician and scientist who lived about 300 B.C.E. He wasgiven a problem to solve by King Hieron. The problem was to find out if a crown that was made for the king was made of pure gold or something less valuable. Have students read the story to find out how Archimedes solved the problem.

AFTER THE STORY

Ask,
What did Archimedes find out and how was he able to prove his answer to the king? [The crown was not pure gold. He proved this fact by seeing how much water the crown displaced, and how much water a lump of gold equal to the one the king had given the goldsmith displaced.]

Do you think this story is true? [This is a folktale, so all of the facts may not be true, but it is based on a real person and stories about that person handed down from generation to generation.] Ask these questions about Archimedes’ reasoning.

Which element is less dense, gold or silver? [Silver.]

If a piece of gold and a piece of silver were the same size, which would weigh more? [The gold.] Which would displace more water? [Both would displace the same amount.]

If some gold were stolen from the gold piece and silver were put in its place so that the piece still weighed the same, would it be possible to discover the switch by weighing the object? [No, they would weigh the same.]

How could the thief make the piece weigh the same? [By adding a mass of silver equal to the mass of gold removed. The mass of the silver will have a greater volume than the equal mass of gold.]

Then how would Archimedes tell if gold was stolen? [The piece would now have a greater volume, and it would displace more water.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read these articles after
completing Investigation 3, Part 1: Exploring Flight.
Time: 50 minute

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.15 - Variables Science Stories

 

 

P. 18 - Variables Science Stories

AIRPLANE BASICS and EXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS

RELATING THE article TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have been investigating the variables that might affect the flight of a model airplane. They have focused on variables that affect the distance it flies. The questions and answers in the first story lead to explanations of how different factors in the design of airplanes help the plane fly and maneuver. The second story tells how flight has changed from the first flight made by Orville and Wilbur Wright to modern-day aircraft.

READ THE STORIES

The first reading might be done as a group. Each question could be read aloud, with students reading the response. Discuss each answer. The sequence of questions describes wing function, components of wings (flaps), and other factors (ailerons, rudders, and elevators). Each factor is related to a function in the operation of the airplane. Assign the second article after reading the question/answer article. Have students read about the history of flight and note important landmarks in aviation design.

AFTER THE STORIES

Explore the questions at the end of the reading.

What gives an airplane most of its lift? [The air moving over and under the wing at different speeds and the tilt of the wing.]

What other factors help keep an airplane in the air? [Speed of the aircraft.]

What factors need to be considered when designing an airplane? [Students should mention things such as streamlining the body of the plane to reduce air resistance, the length and tilt of the wings, how heavy the plane is and how much weight it will be able to carry, the kind and size of the engines, and so forth.] Ask,

How do you control the flight of the airplane once it is in the air? [You use the flaps, elevators, rudders, and ailerons.]

What part of an airplane causes it to turn? [The rudder.]

Where is the rudder on the airplane and how does it work? [The rudder is on the tail of the airplane; it is operated by pedals in the cockpit, turning the plane.]

What part banks the airplane? [The ailerons.]

Where are the ailerons and how do they work? [Ailerons are out at the end of the wings and are operated by a control stick. These help the plane bank when making a turn.]

What causes the plane to go up or down? [The elevators.]

Where are the elevators and how do they work? [Elevators are located in the tail; when an elevator is raised, the plane goes up and vice versa.]
After the second reading, ask,

For what were Orville and Wilbur Wright famous? [First flight.]

What are some different airplane designs described in the reading? [Biplanes and other multi-winged craft;monoplanes with cantilever wings; planes powered by propeller vs. turbines in jet engines; planes built to be invisible to radar, and so forth.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read this article after completing Investigation 3, Part 2: Investigating Variables.
Time: 50 minutes

 

 

 

P.21 - Variables Science Stories

 

 

NOTE:

Mach 1 is the name for the speed of sound; Mach 2.5 is two and a half times the speed of sound.

GREAT NAMES IN AVIATION HISTORY

RELATING THE BIOGRAPHIES TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have been investigating variables related to flying a model airplane. These biographies show how aircraft flight has changed over the years due to design and the gradual improvement in designs.

READ THE STORY

Assign the reading and have students note who the famous people were, what each contributed, and what kind of person they might have been. Students should pay particular attention to the fact that the people came from a variety of backgrounds and made a variety of contributions. They should be ready to answer the questions at the end of the story.

AFTER THE STORY

Have students answer the questions at the end of the story.

Which famous aviator broke the sound barrier? [Chuck Yeager.]

What were some of the problems Bessie Coleman had to overcome to be a pilot? [When Bessie Coleman was young, African Americans and women did not have all the rights that they have today; people in France did not feel the same way as people did in the U.S. at that time, so she was able to learn to fly in France.]

What do all of these people have in common? [They wereadventurous and determined people.]

Have students point out something interesting about each of the people described in the biographies. Ask,

How do you think Orville Wright felt about the first flight, from what he wrote ten years later?

Why was Bessie Coleman famous? [She was one of the earliest women pilots and one of the first African-American pilots.]

What kind of a person do you think she was?

Why was William Boeing famous? [He pioneered new aircraft designs.]

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Schedule The Story:

Read these articles after completing Investigation 3, Part 3: Flights of Fancy

Time: 30 minutes

 

P. 29 - Variables Science Stories

 

PROJECT IDEA

Investigate and report on another fun flyer.
1. After students have several test flights with their Fun Flyer, ask them to write a testable question.
2. Ask them to design an investigation, identifying the variables.

3. Have them design a way to record the data.
4. Have them test the variable they have chosen.

BUILD YOUR OWN PAPER AIRPLANE

RELATING THE ARTICLE TO THE INVESTIGATION


Students have been designing controlled experiments to test the effect of variables on the flight of airplanes. This article tells how to make different paper gliders that can also be experimentally tested and changed to make them glide longer or fly farther.

READ THE STORY

Make sure students have the materials to build the airplane models. Then assign the reading. Have them follow the directions to build each airplane.

AFTER THE STORY

Let students test their models by altering the wings or tail or other feature to see what effect it has on the flight of the airplane. Give the following challenges.

• What can you do to the airplane to make it glide a long time and go a great distance?

• What can you do to the airplane to make it turn a corner when it flies?

• How can you get the airplane to perform a loop-the-loop when it flies?

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Schedule The Story:

Read these articles after completing Investigation 4, Part 2: Flip Out.

Time: 30 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P. 32 - Variables Science Stories

FLINGERS

RELATING THE ARTICLES TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have continued to test their ideas through the control and manipulation of variables. The flipper, or catapult, has provided a fourth opportunity for them to experiment. This science story tells about the use of catapults and identifies some that are not easily recognized as such—the diving board, and the pole-vault pole.

READ THE STORY

Have students review the factors they studied in their investigation of flippers. Inform them that this story tells about real flippers, called catapults. Have them read about the use of catapults throughout history.

AFTER THE STORY

Have students identify objects they did not know were catapults before reading the story. They may be surprised that diving boards, pole vaults, and their throwing arm are forms of catapults.
Ask,

Where are catapults used today? [To launch airplanes, as diving boards, and so forth.]

Why is a diving board a catapult? [It is a device that harnesses energy and uses it to propel an object (person) into the air with great force.]

Why is your arm a catapult when you throw a ball? [The energy from your muscles is used to launch the ball into the air.]

What sports use catapults? [Pole vault, lacrosse, gymnastics,

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Schedule The Story:

Read these articles after completing Investigation 4, Part 3: Controlled Experiments.

Time: 30 minutes

 

 

P. 34 - Variables Science Stories

PROVE IT!

RELATING THE article TO THE INVESTIGATION

Students have learned to design and carry out controlled experiments through the study of pendulums, lifeboats, paper airplanes, and catapults. This fictional story tells about four students who experiment to find out which pair of sneakers is best.

READ THE STORY
Tell students that they are going to read a story about some students who use their knowledge about experimenting to answer a question. Have them read the story to decide whether the students carried out a well-designed experiment.

AFTER THE STORY

Ask students if the study in the story was well done. If so, what did the fictional students learn? If not, what could have been done to improve the study?

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Summary Chart

Measurement Science Stories

Delta Education - FOSS

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