The best way for these fourth graders to learn about sunlight is to have the kids make a solar light show, designing boxes and patterns.
At Hadnot-Hayes STEM Elementary school, students in Adilya Murphy’s class took turns laying on a small mat with their heads inside a large cardboard box, while three classmates removed and replaced cups over plastic bottles that were sticking out of the box. These were two solar light show boxes that the class had designed together.
The two boxes were compared to a control box, which had no way for light to enter. Students used vocabulary words to describe the differences and similarities between the boxes, and recorded those on Venn diagrams. The diagrams will now go to English teachers, and students will complete their writing assignments about energy.
The school has a cross curricular approach, combining lessons across subject areas and sometimes across grades in an age appropriate manner. “Whatever they’re teaching (in English) we make it come to life in here,” Murphy said.
All students came up with their own design for the solar light show box. Then, the class made a decision to build two of them, and divided into teams to build and operate the boxes. One had plastic bottles with different color liquids and a hole to fit the viewer’s head. The other used magnifying glasses and mirrors, and students looked through a hole on the side.