Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Following Newton's Laws: A WebQuest


You may not know it, but you and the rest of the universe obey a set of laws discovered by Isaac Newton way back in the 1600's: Newton's Laws. You and your teammates are creative designers. You have been hired by Middle School Enterprises to find an interesting way to teach fourth graders about Newton's Laws. You will first need to research the laws and figure out how they affect your life. Then, choose one of the following options:
  • Create a 5 minute long educational video to teach younger students about Newton's Laws.
  • Write a children's book that teaches kids about Newton's Laws.

Your bosses at Middle School Enterprises are eagerly awaiting your finished product, so make sure you stay on schedule!


The Task

You & your team of creative designers will produce one of the following options:
  • A short (5 min.) educational video that will help fourth graders understand Newton's Laws.
  • A children's storybook (5-15 pages) that will help fourth graders understand Newton's Laws.

If you are making a video, you will need to turn in a script to Ms. Frizzle, then sign up for a time to use the digital video camera.

If you are writing a children's book, you will need to type your story in Microsoft Word, then illustrate it and cut-and-paste your story and illustrations into one final book.


The Process

To accomplish this project, you will follow these steps. The amount of time to spend on each step is listed in parentheses.
1. First you'll be assigned to a team of 3-5 students.

2. Read the choices of roles below. Agree on one role for each team member. If there are more jobs than team members, some team members can have two roles. If you are having trouble choosing roles, it's okay to vote, flip a coin, or agree to rotate roles each day. (This step should take you 5-7 minutes).


Organizer: Your job is to keep your group moving along, and to make sure all materials are kept neatly in the project folder.
o Pay attention to the times given in parentheses and give your group time warnings when you are taking too long on one step.
o Think of ways to split up work so that more than one step gets done at once.
o Collect your group's materials at the end of each period so that nothing gets lost.

Art Director: Your job is to make sure your group's work is attractive. You shouldn't do all the artwork yourself, just make sure that your group pays attention to how your work looks.
o Video: Coordinate costume & props design. Make sure actors are looking at the camera when they speak.
o Book: Make sure your group chooses a style for your illustrations. Think about the best fonts to use, and how to assemble your book very professionally.

Peacemaker: Your job is to help your teammates work together cooperatively.
o Make sure everyone in your group is included in important decisions. Do this by asking "What do you think?" to each member of the group.
o Remind your group of strategies for making decisions, such as discussing the pros & cons of each idea, voting, flipping a coin, compromising (coming up with a new idea that includes parts of both ideas), or taking turns making decisions.
o Set a good example! Use polite language, such as "please," "thank you," "what do you think?" and so forth.

Teacher Liaison: You are the member of your group who can ask for Ms. Frizzle's help, advice, or opinion. o Before asking for Ms. Frizzle's help, make sure that no one in your group has the answer to what you're asking. Make sure everyone in your group thinks it's time to ask the teacher!
o Raise your hand and wait quietly for Ms. Frizzle to see you.
o When the teacher comes to your table, make sure that all your teammates are paying attention and participating in the discussion.

Computer Guru: You are responsible for setting up and shutting down your group's laptop(s), and making sure all work is saved. You are NOT the only person in your group who gets to use the laptop!
o Get the laptop from the cart, including all power cords. Turn it on and open your group's documents.
o Pay attention to the battery and arrange to plug in the laptop if needed.
o Make sure that your group saves all work to the hard drive AND to at least one group member's eChalk account.
o Return the laptop to the cart, very neatly. Make sure it is plugged in and charging.
o Keep track of which laptop your group is using.

3. Use the following resources to learn more about Newton's Laws. Complete the notes packet to show what you've learned. You might want to divide up the three laws among your teammates, research one law each, then teach each other what you've learned. (This step should take 2 class periods).

(To come - I can't cut & paste the HTML links into the blog, so this part is going to take a little while).

4. Decide whether to make an educational video or write a children's book. The rest of the steps depend on whether you choose video or book.

If you're making a video...
5. Brainstorm ideas for your video. Then write a script and turn it in for feedback from Ms. Frizzle. (1 class period)

6. After getting Ms. Frizzle's feedback, revise your script and get the final draft approved. (1 class period)

7. Gather any costumes and props you need and rehearse your parts at least three times. (30 minutes, and for homework)

8. Schedule a time to shoot your video, and then film it with Ms. Frizzle's help. (15 minutes)

9. When you're finished, use the rubric to grade your own work. (10 minutes)

10. Finally, share your video with your classmates!

If you're writing a children's book...
5. Brainstorm ideas for an interesting story that will include lots of information about Newton's Laws. Then, write the first draft of your story. (1 class period)

6. Turn in a copy of your first draft to Ms. Frizzle for feedback. While she reads it, decide what pictures you need to illustrate your story, and what text will go with each picture. (1 class period)

7. After receiving feedback from Ms. Frizzle, split up the work. Half your group should revise the story, while the other half draws the illustrations. (1 class period)

8. After you finish your final draft and all your illustrations, assemble your book, including a cover! (30 minutes)

9. Use the rubric to grade your own work. (10 minutes)

10. Finally, share your book with your classmates!


(To come - this is a table, so I'm not going to include the whole thing, but perhaps I'll list the categories...)



Congratulations! By now, you should know quite a bit about Newton's Laws and how they affect everyday life. You've also created a video or children's book which has impressed Middle School Enterprises... they are talking about hiring your team for another project in the future!


Credits & References

This WebQuest is based on a template available at The WebQuest Page and is adapted from this WebQuest on Newton's Laws.


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Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws which provide relationships between the forces acting on a body and the motion of the body. They were first compiled by Sir Isaac Newton in his work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). The laws form the basis for classical mechanics and Newton himself used them to explain many results concerning the motion of physical objects. In the third volume of the text, sportsbook, he showed that these laws of motion, combined with his law of universal gravitation, explained Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

Briefly stated, the three laws are:

An object will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity, unless an external net force acts upon it.
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