Lehi Junior High School: Physical Science

The science teacher gave a very good lesson plan. Good lesson plans are very important and rare. Not every teacher writes them. I understand that, too. I am friends with most of the English teachers at Orem High School. They report many subs do not follow the lesson plan or teach anything anyway. Many subs just tell the students to do home work or to socialize. This makes life difficult for the subs who actually want to teach.

The lesson plan was about an observational activity: launching water balloons. Materials: protractor, pencils, paper, meter sticks, balloon launcher and five, small, filled water balloons. A balloon launcher is a long strand of surgical tubing tied at the ends and a cloth hammock attached so balloons can be cradled. Two student stretch the launcher between them, a student stands between them, loads a balloon, pulls it back and shoots the balloon at the target. A forth student takes measurements.

In middle school, one is guaranteed to have one loud mouth boy act out in the first seconds of class. This student became the target. After giving the students the instructions the teacher left word for word we went outside to where a two meter high chain-link fence stood. Four meters from the fence on one side stood the target wearing a huge witch hat. On the other side of the fence the teams arrayed them selves to get the best advantage in hitting the target. The fence is quite handy since it saved the target from people simply shooting straight at him. Every target appreciated this. The teams were allowed to take a few practice rounds, testing their plans by firing their shoes at the target. This was the funniest part and the scariest for the target. Fortunately, no one got close at all, but they learned how to aim and position themselves.

In the next phase, the teams shot their balloons. Out of the four classes I taught, there were only two hits. One the target dodged and the other hit right in the chest. That kid was awesome. He laughed and laughed. After all the balloons were launched, I took all the kids in and showed them how to write their observations for the teacher. I also showed them how to the measurements should have been taken instead of some of the absolutely random measurements that were taken. I then explained that that was okay. That through our mistakes is science furthered. I pointed out, the teacher was interested in how they wrote up the report and observations instead of whether or not they hit the target. I told them to explain what happened even if they dropped the balloon before it was shot or if the balloon exploded in their hands while firing. I then concluded with a short geometry lesson of my own about complementary triangles and basic physics.

During the last five minutes of the final class, the teacher walked in and was very impressed with what he found. Several teams of students busily working on reports and loads of smiles.

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