how the world works

Using a “Mystery Box” for Inquiry

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One of the strategies that we can use for promoting inquiry is a mystery box.  A mystery box is a great way to introduce any concept and grab students’ interest and attention. This strategy can be used over and over again.

In exploring the unit of inquiry on “How the world works”, students were introduced to a mystery box filled with 10 to 15 objects. The unit of inquiry has the central idea, “machines bring efficiency and convenience in people’s lives.”

In making use of the mystery box, examples of simple machines like rolling pin, a pair of scissors, and a paper hole punch machine were in it.  Students were then asked to grab one object from the box with their eyes closed. Afterwards, they guessed the object and described it through their sense of touch.

The learning engagement was integrated with language. Students used adjectives to describe the object that they got from the mystery box as shown in the following example.

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“I feel it is smooth. I think it is made of wood and I can feel one part is moving.”
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It is a wooden rolling pin. It is hard and smooth. If the rolling pin was not invented, my hands will hurt”.

After using a few adjectives to describe what they had touched, the students were then asked to open their eyes to talk more about the object as presented below.

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It is a wooden rolling pin. It is hard and smooth. If the rolling pin was not invented, my hands will hurt”.
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The paper punch machine is heavy and hard. It looks shiny.  If the paper punch machine was not invented, we cannot fix the papers in the folder and we might miss the papers.”

During the learning engagement, students talked about the name and use of the object as well as what would happen if the tool was not invented. Students gave responses such as, “It will be difficult to knead the dough flat. We will feel tired if we have to use our hands” and “It would be difficult to cut vegetables and fruits if the knife was not invented.”

Apart from using their senses, the mystery box learning engagement helped the students practice on their language skills, learn new vocabulary, and enhanced their thinking skills. After the learning engagement, students reflected and collected their thoughts using a concept map, which they used for writing a descriptive text.

Students found the mystery box learning engagement interesting and they were able to make a connection with their daily life. Students also better understood the importance of machines.

By: Rajeswari Chandrasekar

Grade 1 Class Teacher

BINUS SCHOOL SIMPRUG
raji@binus.edu

GRADE 4 DESIGNS AND CONSTRUCTS A LOST AND FOUND PROPERTY CENTRE AS PART OF THEIR INQUIRY

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     The grating sounds of saws at work and of nails being drilled into hard bamboo filled the air as children, totally immersed in their project, carried 30 foot poles of bamboo to makeshift stands made from chairs, measured them carefully into different lengths and sawed, drilled and hammered away.

     It had been an exciting few weeks. The Grade 4 children at Bali Island School had been looking at how the design of buildings and structures was dependent on environmental factors, available materials and human ingenuity. As part of the inquiry, the children had met and interviewed two well-known architects in Bali, visited an indigenous Balinese compound, as well as a marvelous centre for yoga, built completely from bamboo. The children were curious to find out why certain materials were used for building in modern and traditional Balinese structures. So they devised many scientific experiments to test a variety of building materials for strength, insulation and waterproofing qualities. This helped the students to understand their properties better. They were astonished to learn that bamboo was as strong as iron of the same mass!

The next question was how could they apply their newfound knowledge to an authentic, real life situation? The result: A desperately needed Lost and Found Property Centre for the Primary School.

bali-is-2The children first decided to brainstorm ideas of what had to be considered before starting the project. They looked closely at the lost property in the school to see what they had to plan for. Many questions arose that ranged from which building materials would be the most suitable to how to decide the right measurements. They wondered how different kinds of lost property would be best stored. What if it was a wet swimming costume and towel? Should they have pegs or a bar with hangers for clothes? Did they need drawers in which to lock valuable things or should they stick to shelves? They decided to measure bottles, bags and lost kits to understand the shelf size needed. They considered the average heights and arm lengths of the children and teachers to decide on how tall the centre should be and how deep.

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What else did the children gain from this experience? By being challenged and actively engaged in tasks that were authentic, relevant to them and significant to the entire community, this project helped to promote self-management, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to different roles and collaborate respectfully over different ideas and assume responsibility. In short, many of the skills necessary to help our students thrive and succeed as responsible citizens in a changing world.

Preeti Singh

Grade 4, Classroom Teacher

Bali Island School

(Formally Bali International School)

I See Force in Tony Orrico’s Masterpieces

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I found a very interesting artist for my grade 5 visual art lesson on the unit of inquiry, “How the World Works”. The name of the artist is Tony Orrico, an American and best known as “human spirograph”. Spirograph is like a mathematical toy that creates elaborate circular shapes known as “hypotrochoids” and “epitrochoids”.

Tony Orrico is famous for his “Penwald Drawings”, which consist of a series of bilateral drawings in which the artist explores the use of the human body as an instrument to create geometric patterns through movement and course. Through a series of careful movements and repetition of his arms, Tony Orrico creates compelling and beautiful geometric artwork. Tightly clenching carbon sticks of graphite in his fists, he makes series of repeated and varied movements involving his entire body over predetermined periods of time or until certain numbers of strokes, cycles or rotations are done.

Tony Orrico does not only use body movements to create his masterpieces but also his teeth. He spends between 15 minutes and seven hours to complete one of his artworks.binus nov 5.png

In the end, I was surprised when we did a reflection. Students commented that they admired Tony Orrico’s stamina in doing his masterpieces. Students said that Tony Orrico’s artworks look very easy to do, but in reality one has to work hard to follow his style. Students noted that Tony Orrico can spend 15 minutes to seven hours non-stop, but when they were doing it as a group, they felt tired even just for a minute. It made them realize that creating a masterpiece does not only require creativity but also passion and perseverance.binus nov 6.png

By: Irma Dwi Savitri

Visual Art Teacher

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug

irma@binus.edu

Inquiry in Mandarin class

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Under the theme  of “How The World Works” with the central idea “Problem solving leads to inventions and innovation”, PYP 5 students are currently learning about invention and problem solving. To support students’ understanding of these concepts and in an attempt to foster transdisciplinary collaboration in Mandarin class, students inquired into the invention of the printing press, one of the four great Chinese inventions. The first type of printing press was invented by a Chinese man named Bi Sheng and later improved upon by Johannes Gutenberg of Germany.

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As a provocation activity, students were given one Chinese character (e.g. 王, 白, 林), and asked to make as many identical copies as possible in a very limited time. To accomplish this mission, the students tried different methods, such as measuring and copying. During reflection time, they realized that making identical copies in a limited amount of time was not at all an easy or efficient thing to do.

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Then we had a discussion focused on the question: how can we make this job easier? Students came up with the idea of making a stamp which is actually a simplified version of a printing machine. Students created their own stamps using available materials. Once they had finished their stamps, they tried the same task  again which was to make multiple copies of the Chinese character. In conclusion, they realized it is much easier to do this task using the stamp which in turn explains how simple machines can help us to solve many problems and make our jobs easier.SC nov 8.png

This inquiry did not only show the invention of printing but also extended into studies into chinese language and culture. It gave students good insights into how problem-solving leads to inventions and innovation, while giving them an opportunity to explore Chinese culture and heritage.

By Karina Wiguna Atmaja

Mandarin Teacher

Sekolah Ciputra, Surabaya

karinaatmaja@sekolahciputra.sch.id

ICT Integration into Inquiry in Year 3

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This article highlights year 3 students inquiry into migration and exploration through inquiry led personal central ideas and action through ICT integration. 

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”- Walt Disney

‘How the World Works’ is the trans-disciplinary theme that motivated Global Jaya School’s Year 3 students exploration into the world around them. 

Students began by creating their personal, central ideas that drove their inquiry into a topic of their choice.  They achieved this through using the Tubric model, which guides learners to form student inquiry questions.  

Students integrated ICT by creating personal WIX websites that illustrated their line of inquiry. 

Here is an example of a student’s work. 

http://annayr3.wixsite.com/daffa-3b (use this as a sample for the blog site of what year 3 students did to show their learning)
Anna  R. Cottrell Year 3 teacher  Global Jaya School