The Private Eye - looking closely and thinking by analogy with jeweler's loupes and inquiry method for hands-on interdisciplinary science, art, writing, math, and more

Drawings by K-1 students in Kristina Porter's classroom,
Skyline Elementary, Portland Public Schools. During the investigation the kids explored the entire classroom—discovering all kinds of screws and how they held things together. (details below)


K-2-ETS1 Engineering Design

"Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem."

Kristina Porter had her students explore different kinds of screws — their form and function — with a loupe and The Private Eye Questions. Her students learned that screws are actually simple machines! The students began by closely observing a screw with a loupe and created a group list answering the first Private Eye Question: “What else does it remind you of?” They learned one of the uses a screw: to hold objects or materials together. They each did a close-up loupe drawing of a screw, and tried out screwing pieces of wood together. Then the students would not be denied: they wanted to find the top of every screw holding something together in the classroom — and then in the school at large! They were definitely not just screwing around.

A little background on screws:

“The screw was one of the last of the simple machines to be invented.[6] It first appeared in ancient Greece,

A screw is a mechanism that converts rotational motion to linear motion, and a torque (rotational force) to a linear force.[1] It is one of the six classical simple machines.

Geometrically, a screw can be viewed as a narrow inclined plane
wrapped around a cylinder.”
      Source: Wikipedia

Don’t leave screws for just kindergarteners! Exploring and understanding “simple machines” is an NGSS Engineering standard for 5-6th graders

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