The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Forces At Work

Second grade students have been practicing the steps of the scientific method, exploring the forces of tension and compression, and learning how to work as a team as they build bridges in science out of recycled materials.

Second grade teachers introduced their students to the forces of push and pull, and as a class, they discussed all the different places that they see those forces at work in everyday life. In Theresa Berkery’s section, they played a game of “Push and Pull Charades.” Each student acted out a different activity, such as pushing a grocery cart or pulling a wagon, and their classmates guessed the action and named the force involved. Students learned the sophisticated vocabulary for push and pull, tension and compression, and how both forces are at work in the function of bridges. They learned about one of the world’s most famous bridges, San Franciso’s Golden Gate Bridge, how it was constructed, and how it got its  International Orange color. Finally, to prepare for their bridge-building project, students reviewed the scientific method and the importance of following the steps in their work. Theresa reminded her class that they would be using the same process that real scientists use to experiment with their designs.

For their first attempt at bridge construction, students worked together in small groups to design and build their bridge using drinking straws, tape, scissors, and pieces of cardboard. The teachers emphasized the importance of listening to and incorporating everyone’s ideas. While some groups built quickly, others were more deliberate, refining their designs as they went to make them more stable. One student in Jessica Nichols’ class was so excited about the project that she experimented with several ideas at home and shared what she had discovered with her group. Another group found that they could use tape to reinforce their structure and not just as ad adhesive. After they finished their construction, students recorded their data and reflected on what they had learned. 

Second graders will continue to learn about push and pull over the next few weeks. Then they have the opportunity to channel everything they have learned about forces, bridge building, and teamwork to do the assignment all over again, creating bridges with additional materials and complexity.