This year I learned a lot in science class, even though it was a bit hard at first. In elementary school, we didn’t really have a regular science class, because it always depended on the unit of inquiry at the time. I think it was good that we started having science five periods in a week, because there was a lot to catch up on. We learned tons of different things, from how to light bunsen burners, to how fast crystals form in water. Like in elementary school, we had different units, but there was one for each subject instead. We went in a general framework with something about chemistry, then biology, then physics, and over again. I think I also improved a lot over the year, because my grades improved as I got used to the subject.
Ueno Zoo Field Trip
A few weeks ago we went on a field trip to Ueno Zoo. We got to walk around the zoo in groups of five. I was in a group with Rhiannu, Justin, Jem and Johan. We mainly looked at the animals each person was learning about, which we had decided earlier in science class. I was looking at snowy owls, Rhiannu was looking at elephants, Justin was doing research on the Galapagos tortoise, Jem was looking at lions, and Johan was studying penguins. We had a research paper that we used to take notes on the man-made habitat, and we had to answer some questions about what the animal ate, where it slept, and other details. We ended up going to see the snowy owls second-to-last, because we made a loop and came back to the front to eat lunch.
This is the zoo map (click on it for full-size image)
Pretty much all of the different habitats looked man-made and small, some with a wall between, and some with cages. For the elephants the space looked quite big, but not compared to an elephant, especially because there were three or four in the same place. They didn’t have much room to move around. There was only one Galapagos tortoise at the zoo, and it was really big. the enclosure was small though, only around four or five times the size of the animal. The lion’s habitat was a bit better, because there was at least some space for it to run around in. There were only one or two lions there, but that’s still some company.
The penguins’ habitat was quite unique, because it was just sitting there outside. It looked a bit like a fountain at the top, but there were lots of ledges that the animals were standing on. There was a place that went inside below it, and I think it was a nice habitat, but they shouldn’t have put so many penguins in the same place. Last but not least, the snowy owl’s habitat was just a small cage. There was only one owl, so I think it was kind of lonely. There weren’t many things to do in the man-made habitat, because there was just a rock wall, a few logs and tree stumps, and a tiny pool of water.
This is the snowy owl's whole habitat
I find it hard to tell if an animal’s happy or not, but I know that if I was living under those conditions, I wouldn’t really like it. To have such a limited amount of freedom and privacy, and be stuck in the same place all day – I would get bored in the first hour. I think one of the most important things the zoo could do to help the animals is to have more space. That can be really difficult, because of the space in Japan, but it’s a lot better for the animals living there. They should also put more things inside some of the enclosures, like activities, so the animals wouldn’t have to just sit there all day. I think the zoo has done a good job at making the environment seem realistic, but they should definitely compare the the two, and make changes.
People have zoos so that people can come and look at the animals that might not usually live in that area. Families and friends can go, and have a good time while they’re in the company of the animals, and they generally enjoy themselves. However, zoos can be bad for the animals, which is why some people don’t go to zoos anymore. I think that it’s both good and bad for people to go to zoos, because you can learn a lot about the animal, and have a good experience, but at the same time the animals might not like it. They probably don’t really enjoy having people look at them and watch what they’re doing all day. It’s very hard to make the decision of whether we should have zoos or not, because it had both ups and downs. Going to Ueno Zoo was a really good experience for our grade, because we didn’t only go to see the animals, we also learned a lot about their man-made and natural habitats, and it was a very interesting topic for us to study in science class. I really had a good time.
Designing The Experiment
What Am I Doing
In case you didn’t see my earlier blog post, the design task I’m doing with Layna is about water balloons. We’re going to measure the area of the splash it makes when it’s dropped from different heights. Our experiment question is What are the different spaces a water balloon takes up when dropped from different heights?
My hypothesis is that the area of the splash will be the biggest when the balloon is dropped from the highest point, because it has a longer way to drop, so the impact of when it hits the ground will be stronger.
The independent variable is the height that we’ll drop the balloons from. The dependent variable is the weight and shape of the water balloons. The controlled variable is the area of the splash from the balloons. At first I didn’t really understand what the ‘controlled variable’ meant, but in the end I found out that it was just what we’re going to measure.
Step 1: fill the balloons with water.
Step 2: weigh the balloons until you find five with around the same weight.
Step 3: drop the first balloon 25 cm off the ground.
Step 4: drop the second balloon from 5o cm, the third from 100 cm, the fourth from 15o cm, and 200 for the fifth.
Step 5:measure the radius of the splash.
Step 6: multiply the radius squared by pi (3.142).
Step 7: repeat steps 5 and 6 for each splash.
- a bag of water balloons
- weighing scale
You might fall off the chair, so make sure it’s steady, and don’t lean on it. You will probably also get wet, so be prepared (this is a warning in advance).
My Next Stage
I think that we’ll be able to do the experiment the way it is, because Mr. Fedley suggested the idea, and helped us get started. In this experiment I’m looking forward to dropping the water balloons and getting splashed:).I’m not looking forward to having to measure and figure out the area of the splashes.
Choosing My Experiment
What Stuff Have We Been Learning
In this unit we’ve been learning about how you need both gravity and the opposing force for things to be able to move. It’s the same with friction and the moving force. For both combinations, one moves in one direction, and the other moves the opposite way. We also learned about how surfaces can change the speed of a moving object, which is basically the amount of friction. For example, ice has almost no friction, and a rough surface has a lot. We’ve also learned a little bit about buoyancy, and that if an object has a mass of less than 1g/cm cubed, then it will float in water. If it has a mass more than that, it will sink. That also connects to water displacement, which is how if you put an object in the water, the mass of the object in water will move higher.
These are the activities we’ve done so far: the tower activity, the surfaces activity, and the parachute activity. In the tower activity we had to build a tower out of straws and tape. The only thing was that we had to add a 20 gram weight somewhere, which is where my group went wrong. Our tower was looking great, and it was taller than all the others, but we had forgotten about the weight. We were panicking, trying to put it on somewhere before we measured our final towers. It ended up making the tower unbalanced, and it fell over, so it was only 12cm tall . In the surfaces activity we were testing the friction of different surfaces around the school. We had to estimate the order of how far the trolleys would go, and in the end my hypothesis was correct, but I was a bit surprised that it didn’t go farther on some of the surfaces. The parachute activity was the most fun, because we got to design and create our own parachutes. We used plastic garbage bags, straws, string, a weight, and tape. My group used the straws as a sort of frame and put the piece of plastic around it. During the first round our group won, and in the second our group was second place, and we almost won, but got beaten by a parachute that fell up instead of down . All the activities were okay, but the parachute was really fun!
My Design Task Topic
My partner for the design task is Layna, and we’re doing it on the area of the splashes water balloons make when dropped from different heights. At first we found a website with some other good experiments on it, and we were talking to Mr. Fedley about them, but then he suggested the balloon one. I want to do this experiment, because it looks really fun and interesting. Our independent variable (the one we’re going to change) is the height that we’ll drop the balloons from. The dependent variable (the one we’re going to keep the same) is the weight and shape of the water balloons. Our controlled variable (the one we’re going to measure) is the area of the splash from the balloons.