Just Draw It

Science and Children, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Just Draw It


Objectives

To develop children's ability to describe what they know through drawing

Procedure

1. Prepare yourself to introduce and work with students on building ramps and exploring the motion of balls by reading about this physical science activity and by trying it yourself (see Internet Resource).

2. Provide a variety of materials for building ramps and objects to move or roll on the ramps. Introduce the class to the idea of designing ramp structures and exploring motion of objects on the ramps.

3. Allow students to use the materials for long periods. Researchers advise allowing children to work through their problems themselves as they design, try, and redesign their structures (Stoll et al. 2012). While observing students, ask open-ended questions to support student exploration of motion.

4. As an introduction to drawing a structure, challenge students to try to draw one or two building blocks. Gently discourage children if they want to trace the block by asking them to "just draw it." If children become frustrated, demonstrate how to draw the simple rectangle or other shape that represents the block.

5. After students have had 4-6 weekly hour-long sessions building and using ramps, have them try to make pictures of their ramp structures to explain how a ball moves on it. Pictures that do not look like the ramp structure still represent the children's idea of the motion. What is important is allowing the students to describe their work, not teaching them how to accurately draw a ramp structure. Children may use symbols they have seen regularly used in other media--animation in video and drawings in books or cartoons--including arrows and grouped lines to represent motion of the object, and using multiple images of an object to represent its path along the ramp. They develop visual literacy as they work to explain motion using a two-dimensional media. …

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