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We started our inquiry on forces and motion in January and we’ve been really interested with designing ramps. Throughout our exploration, we discussed different materials we could use to make our ramps. We used classroom materials at first, but we also wanted to think about everyday materials that could be used to build things or make something. Our students brought in recyclables such as bottles and an assortment of cardboard boxes. This new supply of material led to the discussions and wonders about what these items are, where they come from, and what we do with them once we are done with them. This discussion connected us back to the beginning of the year when students in our school were introduced and taught about sorting different types of packing in our “Recycling Towers”. We looked at the materials we had and divided items that could go into our "blue bin," Recycling Towers or if it had to go into the garbage. Students shared their ideas about what is considered “garbage” and what happens if we leave garbage around. Some students noted that “if we just leave stuff on the ground, [it’s] bad for the environment.” We talked about what “recycled materials” mean since one student was able to point out the kind of materials we got. We shared our thoughts and identified where we would put these items (“the blue bin” and the “white bins (recycling towers)”, but we also talked about how we could use the items to make something new (“reuse them”). We concluded that it was important to reduce our waste, recycle properly, but also find ways to reuse items if it’s possible. We were eager to start building with new types of material. Students noticed different ways they could place their items and noticed how these placements would serve different purposes. For example, putting a cereal box upright worked as a stand for our ramp and putting it on its side created a “trap” or “tunnel.” We were able to describe our ramps in news ways: “The box here...was up like this and we put a ramp [then] the ball go inside the box!” We made ramps with the recycled materials both indoors and outdoors. Being outdoors inspired students to find ways to have the materials stay in place if it was windy or if the ground was bumpy. These ideas and discussions reinforced our practices of putting/using materials and paper in our scraps box and identifying something is worth saving to reduce waste. It was also super exciting to see the creativity we had when using different types of materials to build and create something new.
The students had lots of fun engaging with the recycled materials and we will be keeping the materials to reuse in upcoming inquiries, inspirations or projects! (We already have students eyeing the tissue boxes - inspired by a peer’s guitar made from recyclables!)