Phunky Physics Writing Across the School

Our inquiry focus is centered around Phunky Physics. Students were provided with authentic contexts and  opportunities to explore everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces, electricity and magnetism, light, sound, waves, and heat. 

Our junior school, Rooms 13 and 14, students have been challenging their design and construction skills building paper planes and making parachutes. 

First, the students were learning to sequence paper plane instructions in the correct order.


Next they learnt to design a scientific investigation. They had to:

  • Write a question to test.

  • Write a prediction - what we think will happen

  • Write an observation - what we see

  • Write an evaluation - what we found out.

Here are some examples of the thinking involved in scientific investigation from the students in Room 14.

Question: How well does my paper plane fly. 

Prediction: Alyssa created a scale from 1-10 “Boo” if it did not not fly far and “Yay” if it went a long way.  She circled the 1 indicating she thought her paper plane would not fly well.

Observation: Mine went down and then up. Then it did a “loopty loop” but it didn’t go far. It went all the way down to the little grey seat.

Evaluation: The students compared how two paper plane designs flew. Plane 2 flys better because it has longer wings and a different body shape than Plane 1. (Alyssa)

Plane 2 flies better because it is pointy, flat and gets more air. It glides way better than Plane 1. (Grayson)

I think the paper plane will fly outside because there is so, so much wind. It doesn’t fly inside because there is no wind inside. (Gnapika)

My prediction is the paper plane will fly faster inside because it depends which way the wind is going. My paper plane flew neatly inside. My paper plane did a loop outside. (Sadie)




Room 3 students have been learning about magnetism. They learnt to use topic related vocabulary in their writing. After watching the video, creating a class brainstorm of magnetic words and experimenting with a class magnet table the students were ready to explain what they had discovered. Mrs Spargue asked them to write about their class magnet set/table.  Some of the questions that were posed included what have you been able to do? What you have noticed about magnetic forces?

Include some of the topic words in your writing. These included words such as:

  • Magnet
  • Magnetism
  • Repel
  • Force
  • Push and pull 
  • Invisible 
  • North pole and south pole
  • Attract
  • Magnet field
  • Magnetic objects
  • Iron nickel cobalt
  • Earth 

The following sentence starters were provided to help scaffold or structure the students writing:

  • Magnets are …
  • Magnets have …
  • The human eye …
  • Somethings are attracted ...
  • The earth …
  • I found out ...
  • I would like to try …
  • When I had a turn at the magnet table …





Magnets are attracted to metal and those metals are iron, nickel and cobalt. One metal that is not magnetic is stainless steel. The human eye can’t see the magnet force. The earth is a magnet too. The core of the earth is iron and nickel. Some things that are attracted to magnets have a south pole and a north pole. (Travis)

I found out that magnets are attracted to metals. The human eye can not see the magnetic field because it is invisible to them. If you have a magnet there will be “n north” on a side and “s south” on the other side. If you get a compass it can move the magnet. Some magnets can connect to metal but not all magnets because some are not attracted. If you get a magnet with hands on the sides you can put it in water and it will make the compass move. (Amber)

Magnets are items that repel. If you did north to north on the magnets it will push away. If you did north to south it will force together. If you put a magnet in the water it will point South and it is very impressive because it tells the right way. The human eye can not see the field of the magnetic pull and push. The things that are attracted to magnets are metal, iron, nickel and even cobalt. Things that are not attracted to magnets are a chair, blankets and teddy’s. I would like to try throwing a magnet on my wall because I have magnetic walls. (Bianca)

Students were also learning to understand the force of friction. They had to write about their friction experiences adding detail by explaining what they noticed happening on different surfaces. 

The following sentence starters were provided to help scaffold or structure the students writing:

  • When I am in my socks I notice ...
  • When I am riding on my bike I notice
  • When I play at the park …
  • On a windy day …
  • At the hot pools ..
  • On a wet day …
  • When I climb trees …
  • Different pairs of my shoes give me ... 
  • On a frosty morning …
  • At the mountain ...

Lachlan’s explanation:

Friction is something that uses force. Friction is a force that can cause wind. Sometimes there are low levels of friction like on wooden/vinyl floors. The result being you are more likely to slip over. Low levels of friction happen when smooth ice touches tyres. High levels of friction happen when two surfaces rub together. High friction can be an advantage for example velcro shoes. In conclusion friction is fun because you can slide on your kitchen floor. (Lachlan)

Our senior students in the Te Mihi team have been using a POE (Predict, Observe & Explain) template to structure their thinking. 

Predict - what do you think will happen? The students used sentence starters including I predict that… I think that … I wonder if …

Observe - what did I notice? The students used sentence starters including the students used sentence starters including I observed … I saw, I noticed … I heard … I felt … I watched …

Explain - why do you think it happened? The students used sentence starters including first, then, following, finally, their, they, them, because, when, then, so, if, after this, as a consequence, the experiment, the force, the pulley, are, turns, happens, falls, rises, changes, is saturated, are changed.

Disappearing colour wheel

LI - To understand and explain how light affects colours

SC: To complete your POE using the POE sentence starters

I wonder if the colours will disappear by spinning the wheel.

I noticed that when I was spinning the wheel all the colours mixed together and I could see just one colour.

The rapid spinning of the disappearing colour wheel causes the colours to blend into each other. This blending creates the illusion that they’re actually white. When the wheel speeds up the colours blend into a vision of white light. The colour white appears because your eyes cannot keep up with the separate colours moving at such a fast rate. (Marshall)



LI - To understand and explain what refraction is.

SC: To complete your POE using the POE using the vocabulary learned previously and displayed on our word wall.

I think that the pencil will sort of bend in the water.

I noticed that when the pencil hits the water the pencil bends.

It happens because water makes the light bend. When you put a pencil in the water the pencil bends. This happens because the light always tries to traverse in a straight line. But putting a pencil into water makes the illusion that the pencil is bent. This is reflection. (Keiran)


The path of the sun

LI - To understand and explain what is the path of the sun

SC: To complete your POE using the POE sentence starters and using Google to find the explanation.

I think when you trace it the second time it would be shorter or longer.

I saw that the shadow had moved left the second time, moved left even more the third time and the fourth time was even more to the left. Sophie traced my shadow.

When I was outside in the sun, I saw my shadow move left every hour. This happens because the earth rotates around the sun, throughout the day. Also the sun’s position to earth makes the shadows have different lengths at different times. (Ava)


It has been amazing to see how immersed students across the school have become as they have discovered their new learning and developed knowledge throughout our Phunky Physics Inquiry. 

Keywords: Topic words, Word walls, Good writers criteria, self and peer assessment, POE (predict, observe, explain), Curriculum links: English - Reading, Writing, and Oral Language Science - Physics