Middle School News
MS Winter Expedition
Seventh grade students investigated and applied principles of math and science in real world contexts during their Winter Expedition. To add to the excitement, some staff from the Tremont Institute joined them. Half of the day was spent at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and the other half of the day was spent at Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park.
While at the planetarium, students experienced three unique rotations. During the first rotation students explored the relationship between numbers written in standard form and those written in scientific notation. Students converted common astronomical applications and quantities into scientific notation in order to gain an understanding of how astronomers work with “big” numbers in the universe. The second rotation involved students participating in a scavenger hunt. Students were required to find specific information throughout the exhibit, and then use that information to solve mathematical problems. Skills that students practiced included working with ratios and proportions, using the diameter and radius of a circle, and estimating. The final rotation involved students applying measures of central tendency to the speed of cars. Using the speedometers on the bridge of the Science Center, students recorded the speed of 15 vehicles and then calculated the mean, median, mode and range of the data set.
At Steinberg, students took advantage of using a low friction surface to increase their understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students began by looking at the first law of motion, often called the law of inertia, which states that an object in motion will tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Working with a partner, students gently pushed one another into an unobstructed area and then recorded both the distance that they traveled, and the forces that eventually caused them to stop. Next, students propelled themselves towards the wall, using it to stop their movement. This trial was repeated multiple times using different velocities. Students examined the variables that increased their momentum, and postulated what would happen if there were no forces acting upon them. Newton’s second law of motion discusses the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration. In order to explore this concept, students used a force (pushing off a wall) acting on a mass (their bodies) to produce acceleration. Looking at various masses allowed students to determine that heavier objects require more force in order to move the same distance. Finally, students looked at the third law of motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. With partners of similar mass, students faced one another and pushed off in opposite directions. They then repeated the procedure with a partner of a different mass and recorded observations about their motion, and how it differed from their initial trial.
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.