Saving Fred – A Science Activity

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This week, I’m participating in Fourth Grade Flipper's Tried it Tuesday.  I’ve been reading all of the “Tried Its” for weeks, and am excited to be linking up today for the first time! (Correction....I tried to link up, but was too late....the collections were closed when I tried to link up)

Our first Science topic is “The Sun, Moon, and Stars.”  It’s a fun unit, but during the Moon section, the kids are required to keep a moon journal for a month between lesson one and lesson two.  The experience is great for them and they learn a lot, but that leaves a month’s worth of Science lessons without activities.  In the past, I plug the Stars lessons in during this month, but this year, I put that off a week to try a new activity I found called Saving Fred.

I can’t remember where I originally found this lesson, and I know I’ve seen it on several blogs, so if the original idea is yours please let me know and I’ll give you credit!

Saving Fred is a great activity to get kids thinking about problem solving strategies, team work, and procedural journaling.  The kids are given the scenario that Fred (a gummy worm) has been trapped on top of his upside down boat (a cup) and his life preserver (a gummy ring) is trapped beneath the boat.  Their job is to get Fred through the life preserver using only paper clips to move any of the items.

I modified this long lesson into three short ones.  On day 1, we brainstormed a list of problem solving strategies.  I took a picture of our list, but the dry erase marker on the white board didn’t show up well.  Our list included:
Think about what to do
Ask someone else
Use common sense
Pick the easiest path
Make a pros and cons list
Test your ideas
Make a cause and effect list
Use time wisely
Think ahead
Make a plan
Be organized

On day 2, I gave the kids the scenario and they actually did the activity.  Here are a few photos:

Several of the groups were able to save Fred pretty easily, so I challenged them to try it with only two paper clips instead of four.  One group felt like challenging themselves even more and tried it (successfully) with only one!

After they had all finished, we discussed the strategies they used.  We also discussed how much harder it was with two paper clips than with four!

On day 3, I had the kids do a reflection journal.  They were to write about the procedures they used, what worked and didn’t work, and working with a partner.

If you’d like your students to try Saving Fred, it is available here.  I’d say it’s definitely worth a try!


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