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Forces and the Three Little Pigs

The Big Bad Wolf might have huffed and puffed this week, but Year 2 have mastered the science behind forces, cleverly constructing houses to withstand his might as part of their latest PYP Unit of Inquiry.

Ms Peck’s Year 2 students are currently exploring the central idea: “Understanding forces can aid us in creating useful products” as part of their latest Unit of Inquiry, ‘How the World Works’. Drawing on the learner attributes of being knowledgeable, thinkers and risk-takers, Year 2 have been examining the following Lines of Inquiry: How are forces and energy used in products? How do the properties of materials determine their use? And how can we think scientifically to solve problems?

As we all know, energy is a big idea in Science. Not only did it kickstart the Universe, but it will also determine how it all ends. As part of their research into forces, Year 2 have been thinking about buoyancy, magnetism, friction, air resistance and gravity. It’s made them reflect on key concepts such as form, function and causation. They’ve thought critically about the fact that everything has a form with recognisable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorised. And that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated. And that that things do not just happen, there are casual relationships at work, and actions have consequences.


To bring all their learning to life, Ms Peck set Year 2 a very exciting challenge: The Three Little Pigs Challenge. She divided them up into four teams: Team Straw; Team Sticks: Team Paper; and Team Mixed (a selection of straw, sticks and paper). Each team was given a set number of building materials and had 30 minutes to construct a house that could withstand the huffing and puffing of the Big Bad Wolf… which was actually Ms Peck’s fan… but let’s not ruin the story! The only other stipulations were that their house needed a door and it needed a roof!

The teams quickly got to work and soon the Piazza was a riot of sticky tape and noisy instructions, as the students worked together to construct their houses.


Team Sticks got off to a slow start, but once they’d formed a stable base, their construction rose from the foundations at breakneck speed. As Lyla said, “We don’t care about the look, we care about the stability.”


Team Straw quickly realised that houses do not have to be square or rectangular, forming a tepee-like construction.


Team Paper knew their house would need considerable reinforcement, so they concentrated on bolstering up their walls and roof with lashings of sticky tape.


Team Mixed found it quite challenging at first to work out how to utilise their different materials, but once they’d found their stride, they were off.

Finally, it was the moment they’d all been waiting for. The moment when the Big Bad Wolf, who dearly loves to eat little piggies, demanded to be let in to their houses. “Not by the hair on our chinny chin chins!” shouted Year 2.


Ms Peck reminded Year 2 that if their house fell down, they were all to say “Ah, well!”

Fortunately for each team, their houses were able to withstand the forces of the Big Bad Wolf due to their innovative approaches to architecture and construction. As Ms Peck said, perhaps Year 2 could be assigned responsibility for designing the next building at Wenona?


On Thursday, Year 2 moved on to investigating the properties of oil and water, thinking like artists and scientists as they explored and discovered what happens when the two are mixed together. Using different colours of resin paint, they had great fun pouring them over their canvases and watching the different densities and viscosities flow and react in interesting ways depending on their chemical makeups.


Great work Ms Peck and Year 2!