Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Ferris wheel: A Power Source

The Ferris Wheel: A Power Source

We asked the some of the preschoolers interested in the Ferris wheel to join us.

We wanted to share with them our understanding of an axle but also ask them if they had discovered anything regarding the following question.

How do we make the wheels turn?

Charlie: You could use rope on the axle and wrap it round once you need the axle to turn.

Dillon: If you glue both wheels to the axle they would turn.

Sophia: The axle needs to be glued on.

Fiona: We want to make it spin without a giant hand moving it.

Sydney: We need a handle to crank it around. It is attached to the axle.

Jericho: We could tie a rope to the axle, then the axle would spin. The axle needs to be glued to the wheel.

Tom: In the middle of the axle there would be a big rope and you would pull the rope and the wheel would spin but it wouldn’t last long because the rope would run out.

Fiona's statement was profound. It spoke to the children's experience with Anna's Ferris wheel. The wheel moved as the children turned a crank which turned the axle and moved the wheel. Fiona considered scale and determined that the hand would need to be enormous to turn a crank on the Ferris wheel that the children were building. 

Jericho's idea of a tying a rope to the axle was compared to the experience of spinning a top.

Ultimately, the children determined that they needed power or a force to make the Ferris Wheel work.

Interestingly enough we came to a different conclusion during a project circle about a week later.

Oliver said that if we placed the Ferris wheel on its side it would look like a spinner. The Ferris wheel morphed into other known objects in their experiences.

It is a merry go round

A waterwheel!

It looks like a propeller....For a helicopter, too.

It could be a fan or a windmill.

Oliver: It is an energy source!  

So there you have it the Ferris wheel has the capacity to create power also....all things are cyclical.


  1. It is so intereating to hear evidence your children are taking from past experiences-- the top, Anna's ferris wheel. I guess it is not surprising but it is always fun to see it in action. I also thought it was interesting to hear Oliver bring up that it was an energy source. I think cross age co-construction happens more than we even recognize because that statement has to be linked to Theo's study of energy and discussions Oliver has overheard. if only we knew all of the conversations that happend every day in every class, then we could see how much cross pollination of ideas really happens in this community.

    1. Exactly! Oliver said Theo had discussed energy sources at home. I notice this often with Lorenzo. Contagion throughout the classrooms.

  2. Very exciting stuff!! Thanks for sharing, Mary.

  3. Thanks, Adrienne. You are such a great support!