We like to keep a vague eye on the national curriculum, and make sure we're not missing any of the big topics, and as we hadn't done much on materials (although we had touched upon it in Project 163: Rocks and Minerals and Project 147: Sculpture), we decided that should be the focus of this week's project.
We started the week by learning about different materials and their properties using the Schofield & Sims Science Revision Guide (key stages 1 & 2), looking at wood, stone, paper, metal, glass, pottery, plastic, cotton, and wool, and introducing words such as brittle, transparent, opaque, absorbent, polished. We did a hunt around the house to find items for each category, and we investigated why certain materials are used for certain jobs using Sam's bike and a worksheet from the Bikeability site.
We watched videos to find out how bricks, glass, paper, metal, and plastic are made.
We discussed thermal conductors and thermal insulators, and then the kids came up with their own experiment to see which was the best thermal conductor out of wood and cardboard. We then finished the week by having a go at making some paper without specialised equipment.