Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!
This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.
by Rudolf Trostli This is the best and only book you need for Middle School Physics.
i.e. Simple Machines
With my oldest daughter I had to rush through Mechanics as a part of a larger speedy Physics overview. With my youngest daughter I had the time
to devote an entire block (four weeks) to Mechanics. We did this as a mixed age (7 to 13) main lesson block to kick off the homeschool year.
Day One - Newton's First Law
Science: spirit of inquiry done in an organized way. Careful observations, notetaking, publishing your work, other scientists replicating
your experiments to see if they get the same results, etc.
I have read that you can take a blue jay feather and crush it in
a mortar & pestle and none of the pieces of it will be blue. This
is a The Adventure
Book of Nature Craft by Richard Dempewolff suggested activity. I've always wanted to try it and so we did.
And it is true... when we turned out the crushed bits on a white piece of paper, none of them were blue (because the color is caused by refraction).
Now, we need to look for another blue jay feather so we can repeat. Make theories. Test them. Repeat.
Our topic: our final goal for this Main Lesson Block is to build a Rube Goldberg machine.
review yesterday's lesson, demonstrate the meaning of balanced outside force versus
unbalanced outside force by having two students hold a pencil between them and pull opposite
each other with the same amount of force, have other students note that the pencil
does not move, then have one student let go... the pencil will move in the direction of the person
who is still pulling
explain that forces have direction and are shown in diagrams with arrows and that forces are measured
by a metric unit called Newton, show an example of a diagram
Contact versus Action-at-a-Distance Forces "For simplicity sake, all forces (interactions) between objects can be placed into two broad categories:
contact forces, and
forces resulting from action-at-a-distance"
review a contact force - Friction - roll marble along the floor until it stops, rub palms together briskly and feel them get hot, light a match (after
trying to strike it on glass, strike it on the rough side of the box)
Styrofoam or paper cup, pair of scissors or a sharp pencil, pitcher of water
THIS EXPERIMENT CREATED A VERY INTERESTING DISCUSSION
It is worth taking the time to note when children do not understand a basic concept. I had a student tell me that our planet had
gravity because we have an atmosphere and it is heavy and holds things down, and that other planets which do not have an atmosphere do not have gravity. I
also had my group split about what happened in the gravity water drop experiment (have plenty of Styrofoam cups, because they break on impact with
the ground). Some felt the water stayed in place because of centrifugal force (which they were familiar with from rides at the State Fair and
from washing machines which spin). It is interesting that they brought this up -- even though the cup was
merely dropped and not spun -- apparently thinking that the water was pushed against the side of the cup but was held there
and couldn't move. I
never mentioned centrifugal force in my lesson. Some felt the water did not leak out because the cup was falling faster than the water. Some felt the water
was falling faster than the cup. Some believed they were falling at the same speed. Some thought that the water stayed in because air resistance
balanced out the force of the gravity.
We wrote down all of their questions and theories and now I have to plan more activities to explore this before we move much farther in the unit.
Rushing past children's point of questions and confusion, because your planbook says to, simply means that they miss the entire rest of the unit
because the foundation is not there.
We took a break from the discussion and finished by looking at two more forces:
review an at-a-distance force - Magnetism - hold two magnets and bring
them together very slowly, feel how they begin to pull at each other before even touch
review a contact force - Air Resistance
air resistance facts - meteor entering the atmosphere and catching on fire - fluid mechanics (air acts like a fluid, like water) - airplane design, racecar design,
Balloon racers rely on Newton's Third Law of Motion. As the air rushes
backward out of the balloon it pushes the car forward in the opposite direction with an equal force.
(This is optional because you may
already feel like this is covered with the Hovercraft... although I felt like the hovercraft was a bit of a bust because the kids expected it to move
more rapidly and to be higher off of the table and so did I. I actually thought that just blowing up a balloon
nice and big and letting go and watching it zip around the classroom was a fine demonstration of Newton's Third Law.)
and it also leads us into playing with a Newton's cradle (if you want a really nice one for your classroom, or to give as a Christmas present, check this out!)
stretched rubber bands are loaded with potential energy - offer Rubber Band Snap Art
as a work choice
*NEW* Ramp Lab (this
is a pretty simple middle school version -- she also has a high
school version. "In this lab students build ramps with textbooks and meter sticks. They will change the height of the ramp and the mass of the balls rolling down and measure how it affects the amount of potential energy. Students will use the formula PE=mgh and find the relationship between potential energy, height, and mass.")
Note: A few more options for Potential and Kinetic Energy are Peg's Paddleboat ($9.00) and Rubberband Racer ($15.00), both powered by a rubber band, and
the Trimaran ($25.00), powered by a balloon, all from Nova Natural.
Day Eight - Pendulum Experiments
Energy in a Pendulum "At its highest point (Point A) the pendulum is momentarily motionless. All of the energy in the pendulum is gravitational potential energy and there is no kinetic energy. At the lowest point (Point D) the pendulum has its greatest speed. All of the energy in the pendulum is kinetic energy and there is no gravitational potential energy."
pendulum experiments -- this also takes a lot of time but all you need is a pencil and some tape
to tape the pencil to the top of your chalkboard, a long piece of string, an S-hook, a bunch of washers, a piece of chalk, and a stopwatch
(Actually, I sent home Pendulum Packages with kids who wanted the supplies to experiment some more. I just used Talenti containers -- which won't break
in a backpack -- and put in a long piece of hemp twine, an S-hook, and a bunch of assorted washers. The kids were delighted!)
Week Three - Work and Simple Machines (I have revised my pacing on this, based on experience. The last three simple machines are quick, are variations of one another, and can
easily be done in the same day.)
"When the work is done upon the object, that object gains energy. The energy acquired by the objects upon which work is done is known as mechanical energy.
Mechanical energy is the energy that is possessed by an object due to its motion or due to its position. Mechanical energy can be either kinetic energy (energy of motion) or potential energy (stored energy of position). Objects have mechanical energy if they are in motion and/or if they are at some position relative to a zero potential energy position (for example, a brick held at a vertical position above the ground or zero height position)."
The Block & Tackle is really easy to put together with
a group of kids because it is fast. You just run the rope through the four pulleys according to the diagram and hang it from a tree (using the included
strap... absolutely NO TOOLs are needed for this) and add
a basket. My six and seven year old students and I did this while the older children (ages 12 and 13) worked together and assembled the Cable
Car Kit. The Cable Car Kit takes time to dry, and is a great accompaniment to The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch.
Note: The Cable Car Kit does require a Philips screwdriver and sandpaper.
A great way to explain this is a grocery store cart! I asked the kids if they've ever had to help
carry the groceries into the house after their family has done a large shopping trip. Load after load. Bag
after bag. It is a lot of weight! Yet
their parent pushed all that weight around the store like it was no big deal...
"it is easier to build an axle and then attach the wheels to it, then to have the wheels and then try to add an axle"
"if the axle is too close to the container, the friction between the straw and the container will slow the axle from moving"
Another Note: I purchased and drank a lot of the little Bolthouse Farms smoothies in the days around the Balloon Car Challenge, because the lids
are perfect for wheels.
Day Twelve - Inclined Plane, Wedge, and Screw
Brainstorming examples of the inclined plane (ramp), we came up with the log
which one student used as a ramp to help him climb up onto the lowest branch of the magnolia tree, a set of steps, and
the ramp on the back of a moving van. One child pointed out that in helping her stepsister move to a new apartment,
they used a dolly to move furniture up a ramp... an example of two simple machines combined (wheel & axle, inclined plane).
I didn't buy a spring scale but it would have been helpful for this block, especially for activities like #22 What is the Mechanical
Advantage of the Inclined Plane?
Archimedes is a great person to end week 3 on because some of his inventions for defending the port of Syracuse were
totally ingenious... and kids are always inspired by his work to renew their creativity
Construction Project: Building a
Rube Goldberg Machine
Deconstruction Project: Taking Apart a Bicycle Field Trip: Science Center Field Trip: Local Design Studio (we picked Little River Research & Design)
add last three simple machines to Main Lesson Book
(we also enjoyed a great visit with Dav Glass from HackSI)
more optional fun which seems like
it should fit in here somewhere, but I can't tell quite where: How Strong is Spaghetti?
rewatch OK Go video... why does a little domino in the beginning end up moving a car? the potential energy is stored in it, the work is done by all
of the workers who set that up, and the chain of motion is just unlocking it
Now let's gather things from around the house and look over possible components for our Rube Goldberg machine:
Personally, I really wanted our Rube Goldberg machine to include Pendulum Painting! But
there's no really good way to take off the masking tape without using your hands
other initial brainstorm ideas... it could end with an arm knocking out a pie pan from the Inertia Egg Drop and the egg could fall into the
glass of water... or it could end by dropping a carrot into the rabbit's cage...
NOTE: It definitely works best to start with your end goal in the Rube Goldberg Machine (ours was the cable car delivering a carrot to the rabbit) and then work backwards, planning interactions
one at a time. We brainstormed and made a list of supplies we thought would be helpful (marble maze, PVC pipe, etc.) before
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