Onward and Upward! A Constructivist Approach to Physics with Young Children

“What is desired is that the teacher cease being a lecturer, satisfied with the transmitting ready-made solutions. [Their] role should rather be that of a mentor stimulating initiative and research.”
~ Jean Piaget, To Understand is To Invent

“To know an object is to act upon it and to transform it.”
~ Jean Piaget, Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child


As a constructivist science teacher, I believe that children “construct” their understanding of the world through the process of creating, testing and refining (the engineering process) with their own ideas about how things work.

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Here is what our young physicists wanted you to know about The Three Billy Goats Gruff:

  • “Some of us designed and build bridges after reading different stories about The Three Billy Goats Gruff. We designed our bridges, had to figure out what went wrong when our idea didn’t work and then build it again.”
  • “Some of us used the Three Billy Goat Puppets and told one of the stories we read. We liked reading the book with Ms. Alicia. We got to say, ‘Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge,’ by the troll in the story. We got to be the Billy Goats and use our feet to go trip-trap, trip-trap, trip-trap, and cross over the bridge. That was fun.”
  • “We read the Arabic story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and saw Arabic writing. We learned that you read Arabic the opposite from when you read English. It was cool because we have kids in our school who learn and speak Arabic at home. Like Morocco and Algeria.”

K0/K1/K2: Ramps, Balls and Pathways

Students will study is an inquiry-based, hands-on, science curriculum designed to
offer students with exciting science experiences that extend their natural curiosity with the world and help them learn science skills, exploration and discovery. Students will use new and interesting materials to investigate phenomena and explore physics. They will develop abilities and understandings by observing, questioning, trying out ideas, and making mistakes, and by discussing, analyzing, and communicating their thoughts and discoveries with their peers.

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Here is what our K0/K1 and K2 students had to say about this new unit:

  • “We explored and did magnet challenges.”
  • “Some of use worked on designing ramp challenges.”
  • “Some of us designed ramps that we wanted to make and started building them and drawing them.”
  • “Some of us worked on Lego challenges to build moving robots.”

Grade 1: Air and Weather Investigations

The Air and Weather Curriculum will cover four investigations, each designed to introduce concepts in earth science. The investigations provide opportunities for Young Steam Inventors to explore the natural world by using simple tools to observe and monitor change. Students will continue to develop an interest in Air and weather, experience air as a material that takes up space and can be compressed into smaller space. They will observe the force of air pressure pushing objects and materials, compare how moving air interacts with objects, and  become familiar with instruments used by meteorologists to monitor air and weather conditions. They will organize and communicate their thinking through drawing and writing while acquiring and expanding their vocabulary associated with properties of air and weather conditions. Students will use what they already have learned and what they observed in the course of figuring out how things work to draw conclusions about air and weather.

Young SPACE Inventors

March was National Women’s Month. In the Science Makerspace, we spent time celebrating the inventions and achievements of women from all around the world. We particularly discussed female astronauts and the moon walk that was canceled.

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Here is what our Young Space Inventors want you to know about the last week of National Women’s Month:

  • “We girls worked with GoldieBlox materials to design and build our own ideas. We had to first try one of her ideas by thinking like architects, engineers and builders. We designed and built cars, flowers and other cool stuff.”
  • “We learned about the first women who were suppose to do a moon walk that got canceled. We were mad because we wanted all week and they didn’t have a size to fit one of the woman astronauts. That’s not fair or equal.”
  • Says one male student:  “Yeah! I agree about the women astronauts. They had suits to fit the guys but not the girls. That’s just not right!Thats not equal.”
  • “Ms. Alicia had a space center where we could learn about the space station, astronauts and what they do and eat in space. When they brush their teeth they have to swallow this special astronaut tooth paste.”
  • “They sleep upside down sometimes in space, and they exercise and talk on the phone.” “They get energy from the sun and the solar panels to use inside the space station.”
  • “We read space stories and we got to draw about what we read, or make space books if we wanted to.”
  • “Some of us started working on a space station in the block area, and some of us started building a space station out of Legos.”
  • “We learned about four famous scientist that helped us get to space. They are so special that Lego made Lego people after them. That’s cool.”

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