Swing, rocket and roll

16th May 2008 at 01:00
Pictures with moving parts may look simple, but the construction requires a lot of technical know-how. Jo Deacon puts the pieces together
Pictures with moving parts may look simple, but the construction requires a lot of technical know-how. Jo Deacon puts the pieces together

This term my Year 5 class will be making pop-up books for younger readers, using a range of pictures with levers and other mechanisms. At the end of term, they will present the nursery rhyme books, complete with moving pictures, to key stage 1 pupils.

I felt it was important to introduce the class to some of the technical vocabulary we would be using during the first lesson. I focussed their attention on linear, reciprocal, rotating and oscillating.

I wrote these four words on the whiteboard and explained that the objective of the lesson was for each child to understand the new vocabulary and to make four simple moving pictures using each mechanism.

I gave each pupil a pencil, a piece of A4 white card, three white card discs, a couple of brass paper fasteners and scissors. Coloured pencils, felt tips, wax crayons, rubbers, glue sticks and Sellotape were also available.

In addition, I'd made examples of the mechanisms I wanted the children to emulate; it is vital to have examples of finished products so pupils know what you want them to do.

The lesson was planned to last all afternoon and be skills-based, linked to the Focused Practical Tasks in QCA. It was aimed at encouraging pupils to get to grips with the workings of the mechanisms and the importance of accuracy.

After explaining the lesson objective and presenting the new technical vocabulary, I showed the class my example of a linear mechanism and asked them why it was called "linear".

They correctly answered that it was because the lever moved up and down in a straight line. My example was a cracked egg with a chicken inside it.

When you moved the lever upwards, the top of the egg moved to reveal a chicken inside. I showed the class the back of the picture to reveal the secrets of the mechanism.

It was important to discuss how the lever was attached to the top of the egg with glue or Sellotape, and how the lever was held in place on the bottom piece of the egg with guides made out of card.

Then, in true Blue Peter style, I showed them how to make it using one of the card discs. Also, to improve their cutting skills, I demonstrated how to use scissors correctly, such as keep them pointing in the same direction with one hand while feeding the card and rotating it in to the scissor blades with the other.

The class was then given a limited amount of time to complete their own linear mechanism, put it in their design and technology book and write short notes explaining the movement.

I followed the same style for reciprocal (backwards and forwards), rotating (round and round) and oscillating (swinging from side to side) mechanisms.

The reciprocal lever showed how to make different pairs of eyes appear on a face by moving the lever from side to side.

The children used their creativity and designed human, animal and even robotic faces.

The rotating lever showed a rocket going round the Earth, using a brass paper fastener. The oscillating lever was represented by a swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock.

Jo Deacon is design and technology co-ordinator at Sherwell Valley Primary School in Torquay.

You'll know it's going well when the pupils are enjoying the practical work and produce a colourful array of moving pictures to display in class. It shows they are gaining a firmer understanding of what levers are and how different movements can be produced.

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