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Bronxville News

Students Sanding Wood and Student Sawing Wood
Bronxville, NY

Equipped with solid wood pieces, saws and rulers, eighth graders put their science skills to the test to design and build small table prototypes. The hands-on project was the culmination of an authentic learning unit that science teachers Jean Windels and Jennifer Zopp developed for their students. 

“Some students took the time to plan their table before building, but many also plunged right in and started cutting,” Windels said. “They were given a finite number of materials to use and therefore had to plan accordingly.” 

Throughout the unit, the students have been learning basic science skills, such as accurately measuring distances using a ruler, reading a graduated cylinder correctly and using electronic balances to measure mass. For the project, they were challenged to adhere to certain parameters with the goal of building their tables with the least amount of volume within a certain mass range to minimize the cost, which was a standard amount per cubic centimeter of volume.

Once completed, the students conducted a marble test to determine which table successfully held a marble on its surface. 

“Students were so happy to be able to use tools and build a hands-on project and felt that they learned a lot from the experience,” Windels said. “When they were asked about the experience, they felt that sawing the wood in general was hard, as well trying to make the legs equal in length. We could really see them using the skills that we have been teaching them to measure the pieces of their table accurately.”

Windels said that she and Zopp hope that by giving students the opportunity to use their newly acquired science skills to create an authentic object will help them to internalize those skills for the future.