Thursday, September 06, 2012

Adventures in Homeschooling - The Lego Experiment

I never even try to pretend that we have a perfect homeschooling life. We don't. Almost every day involves some amount of complaining and frustration, and yet, in the midst of all that complaining and frustration, there are some really cool moments (usually completely unplanned) that make me smile and love our homeschooling life. Today featured one of those moments.

My younger son asked if he could do a science experiment. Honestly, science wasn't even on the agenda for today and I had already allowed (that doesn't seem like the right word!) them to watch a science program on T.V. earlier in the morning. But, I know, to some extent, I really need to go where the spirit leads them. So, I asked what he had in mind. He said that he wanted to see what temperature a Lego brick would melt at. He thought it would melt at 500 degrees. His brother was convinced that it wouldn't melt at all.

Hmmm . . . This was actually some valid scientific inquiry, complete with two competing hypotheses. I asked them how they would go about this experiment. They suggested starting at 350 degrees for eight minutes, then going up by 50 degree intervals for the same amount of time, until (if needed) we got to 500 degrees. Sounded like a good plan to me. Plus, to get even more educational mileage out of this experiment, I told them they could write up a short report about it, including photos, for their writing assignment today.

So, here were the results.

After eight minutes at 350 degrees:

After an additional eight minutes at 400 degrees:

After an additional eight minutes at 450 degrees:
And after a final ten minutes at 500 degrees (they decided to go with an additional couple minutes as this was the final temperature)
In the end, they were both right. There was definitely some melting as the temperature got higher. We now have a very deformed Lego brick, but it didn't melt into a pile of plastic, either. It is still recognizable as a Lego brick, even to the point that you can still read the word "Lego" on the studs.

Next week, they are already planning on melting a Mega Block to see how the lower-priced Lego competitor compares.


Karen Ford said...

And that's why you're my hero! So cool! Our homeschool science has employed the insect container you got for science last year and some caterpillars we discovered on parsley in the garden. They have grown so much in the past week! The boys have drawn them, but alas, no pictures have been taken to show how much fatter they are than last week....I found another baby caterpillar today. If it lives, we will have something for comparison. Perhaps there will be a black swallowtail butterfly blog post in my future....

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Have fun with the caterpillars :)

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