During this year’s project period, Year 2 Science students tried to answer the basic question – What is the most efficient way to heat water and keep it warm? Essentially – how to build the best thermos?
Each year, we suspend our regular schedule for two weeks in January to allow our students to focus on a single task in more depth. The project is cross-curricular meaning that involves more than one subject. Students work in groups to complete their task. Read about other VRG projects here>> and here>>.
In the Natural Science program, the year 2 project was focused on understanding thermodynamics. Based on this understanding, the student groups were tasked with building the best thermos.
The project period started with two days of lectures and theory. On the third day, students were allowed to do their own research and work together to design (on paper) a prototype for their thermos. Students were allowed to discuss and debate their ideas with their teachers. Then, on day 4, student groups were allowed to test their ideas in the lab all day. With teachers present, students could design, build, test, and assess their own ideas. Then, after further thought, students were allowed to iterate their ideas and test again. After the first lab day, student groups could either stop the testing phase and begin composing their data, results and write their final lab report. Or, students could meet with teachers to discuss possible developments and prepare again for a second test. On day 6, the labs were once again open for those groups who wished to test again. On day 7 and 8, student groups were given time to review thoroughly their data and results. They were asked to compose this review in a formal lab report. Students were also required to reflect on their process during the project – what went well? how could their lab have been improved, what did they contribute to their group, etc?
In the end, there were many different versions of the “best” thermos”. However, ranked in terms of heat preservation, there were clear “winners”. One week after the project period, all Natural Science year 2 students gathered and the winners were announced.
All in all, this was a very successful project.
Teachers liked the level of student engagement.
-having a concrete task – build a thermos
-doing an open lab where they themselves could design the prototype and the tests to be performed
-unlimited time in the lab
-the possibility to redo the lab without penalty
-working in groups
When asked what they would like to develop further in this project, one teacher replied: