This lesson uses a pinball machine as the basis for learning about materials, forces, and electricity. It is the same pinball machine used in the Creative Core Curriculum Mathematics STEM Project Edition for Fourth Grade. This lesson, however, adds "bells and whistles." The basic pinball machine is built from the lid to a copy machine paper box. This works well, but can be a little small. A better idea is to either use a larger lid or tape several pieces of cardboard together to form the machine. A good rule of thumb is that a pinball machine should be about twice as long as it is wide and the playing surface should be at about a 10 degree angle.
In this activity, students will explore aspects of erosion and weathering by building their own island and subjecting it to various natural events. They quantify these events by gathering weather data and measuring erosion. It can be very difficult to accurately simulate many of the earth's geological events within the confines of the classroom, but this activity provides a somewhat realistic scenario with measurable results.
This learning cycle addresses food webs. Students illustrate a food web (also known as the energy web) by actually making a web. They then identify the traits of the various species that allow it to occupy that location on the web. Finally they see what happens when a population declines to the point of no longing filing that location on the food web.
Students will be classifying materials based on their properties. They will also study rocks and classify them by properties and type. They apply this knowledge as they make a concrete stepping stone.
In this lesson students will relate fuel consumption of a vehicle to food consumption of a human. They will apply this knowledge as they plan out a road trip and determine where and what to eat while traveling.