Pencil Sharpeners

Delivery Method: 

If you take a moment to watch children investigate a pencil sharpener you’ll soon realize that it is indeed a very complex machine. How does it work? Which way do you turn it to sharpen a pencil? And what happens when you turn it the other way? What is creating all of the wood shavings? Why are some shavings shaped like curly cues and others like tiny bits? What does the pencil sharpener do to the pencil? These questions, and many more, fuel children’s explorations of a pencil sharpener; the questions they generate motivate them to engage in deep thought and encourage the development of their thinking about this interesting machine.

Mary wants to create wood shavings for her collage. She twists the pencil sharpener around the pencil to make shavings. But what marks the quantity that she is creating? The amount of shavings in the catch container tells her, but so does the diminishing size of the pencil. Watch how she looks at both the container and the pencil tip. Apparently she understands the logic: adding shavings here means reducing wood there. Also notice the way she shifts her strategy of turning the pencil to either guide it into the hole (pointer finger extended), precisely keeping it aligned as she turns it (pincer grip with two fingers), or her power grip (pencil in closed fist) to create more pressure on the sharpener's blade. We learn that this simple machine has rich complexity.

Keywords: Threes, Simple Machine, Child-Teacher, Function, Empty/Full, Exploration, videative

Length of videative: 3 text pages, 11 video subclips
Length of stand-alone master video clip: 5 minutes, 29 seconds