Magellan News

Sixth Grade Kicks Off the Year with Force & Motion

Sixth graders kicked off their first unit in Science - "May the f=ma be with you: Force and Motion” - by competing in the "puffmobile" challenge! The exercise was a fun introduction to science concepts, and encouraged using important Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills - or soft skills -  critical to a well-round IB education. 

So what is it?
The task was a design challenge to create a vehicle that would travel the farthest in one breath (puff) using the materials below. Students were randomly assigned to groups of three. They were given time to brainstorm two different designs. Once approved, they were built, tested, and revised. Then puffers placed their vehicles at the starting line to compete.

  • 10 straws
  • 1 meter of blue tape
  • 4 wheels
  • Short straight pins
  • 1 sheet of printer paper
After the competition, students analyzed why some vehicles went farther than others and gave scientific reasons for this using these concepts and skills:
  • Energy is required for motion (Newton’s First Law of Motion)
  • Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills explicitly taught:
    • Working collaboratively
      • Students shared which skills were needed for the task and which they thought they were good at
      • Each group was seen comparing who could puff the hardest
      • All students were engaged in the groups
    • Building consensus
      • Groups had to design two different vehicles and agree on which would be the most effective
    • Giving and receiving meaningful feedback
    • Working to a deadline
Kudos to the students for displaying many of the IB attributes during this lesson!