Newton’s Castle- Filled with Captivating Converging 2-12 Content Connections

Just like the scientific genius of Newton which is accessible to a multiplicity of ages and learners, so too, the Newton’s Castle web resource provides a vast array of differentiated multidisciplinary curricula projects and investigative chambers within its pages.


Language Arts

A child in grade 2 or 3 can experience an online think aloud and read aloud using the animation/picture walk technique of balanced literacy as the child considers how and why light is refracted through a prism.

Further language arts uses for the prism and why dogs chase cars problem construct, would be: having the children create their own pour quoi deliberately fictional folk tale to explain this science fact and then include an informational paragraph with the science fact data in it!!

They can also use the questions to author a scientifically accurate answer to the question in the style of the wonderful John Sciezka Science Verse (New York: Viking, 2004).

Science/ Mathematical Reasoning/Problem Solving

Since color identification and discussion is part of the early childhood science curriculum, children can use this animation as well as the animation of the car rolling up hill, as the catalyst for science log picturing observations. These questions also can serve as the bases for inculcating young learners in science method and hypothesis formation.

The same child can only ponder the scientific explanation The child can hypothesize as to why the dog chases a car. Therefore the child has practiced early childhood learning technology assisted inquiry based learning. The animation and web has accessed the young learner to this big Newtonian idea.



On the middle elementary level, children can develop their own ideas and stories or factual explanations for why cars roll up hill. They can also storyboard animations using the visual as a catalyst for persuasive narrative or procedural account or research writing.

They can develop further science riddles and respond to them in riddle format.

They can also use these questions and the other Newton’s question page on the web resource as the starting point for procedural account and/or outlining of the steps they would take in the preliminary research process to discover the answers to these questions. They could even detail what happens when they put these questions into a search engine and then start checking out the matches. Of course, they can also click on the site links to explore the actual sources of the information.

They can also write to some of the other experts cited online, creating authentic communications and practicing much needed business/emailing skills.

Intermediate school students can add in their own links with explanations as to how these links enrich specific pages


On middle grade levels, the web resource can provide information for biographical snapshots or student biography writings of Newton. They can also rewrite his story for middle school students since the web resource target audience is high school students.

Middle school students can map Newton’s life to go along with his timeline.

Intermediate Students can review a teen trade book about Newton to enhance the site!!

They can use the timeline, the animations, the graphics, and photos on the site for DBQ-document Question links.


They can have fun themselves with connecting Newton’s rich genius to Science and Math content/ curricula, they are already studied or will be studying. They can even author a page of such connections with the heading: Newton KNEW IT ALL!!

Intermediate students can design web pages that focus on current issues or stories in science and /or mathematics which resonate with Newton’s understandings.

They can also digitally photograph natural phenomena in daily life that reflect Newton’s understandings and insights.


Newton’s Inventions page can be the jumping off point for the middle school students’ creating their own inventions inspired by his or exploring current permutations of how his inventions live on in our current time.

They can relate the information on the Pennsylvania Mountains to their Earth Science Curriculum and research other magnetic mountains. They can also develop a list of links for these mountains.

Intermediate Students can do an invention’s need survey, preliminary drawings and a précis detailing the need, science/mathematical design principles behind it, and market design for their inventions. They can be Newton’s 21st Century apprentices in invention.


The site was developed for, by and with high school students from John F. Kennedy High School.


Of course, for this grade level the power point can be the power catalyst for revisitings of Newton’s achievements and aligning Newton to contemporary issues of intellectual freedom.

High school students can partake of his castle of critical thinking , investigative and hypothesis formation as they react to the same issues of censorship and intellectual freedom for publication that charged his life.

They can develop their own pro and con persuasive essay takes on some of the issues and themes he advocated.

Of course they can also research how these issues have changed and the extent to which they figure in today’s news.

They can develop designs for their own pages to amplify these issues.

They can also develop model English Regents test sophistication questions in multiple

choice, DBQ and essay format for the exam and of course provide the answers as well.


They can explore the extent to which Newton’s mathematical insights are part of their current curricula or have fun by having him comment on their current mathematics textbooks!!

They can research to identify other mathematicians who were investigating at the same time as Newton and compare their results with his.


They can develop sample pages from Newton’s ongoing data keeping in which they hypothesize, using his writings and ideas, how he would have written or filled in a current lab observation journal or lab procedure format.


Students can design a timeline focusing on other giant multidisciplinary science, mathematics, and political thinkers such as Da Vinci and Einstein and relate Newton’s achievements to theirs using graphic organizers in a power point.

A scientist and writer for all centuries, on cyberspace for all to visit and to revision!!

Newton’s Castle is open for exploration and for “apple” ications 2-12!

How Pre-Existing Knowledge Affects Cognitive Connections

Homeschool parents are saddled with the often onerous task of teaching their children some difficult subjects, such as science. Understanding how your kids learn and make cognitive connections with a variety of subjects will make it easier to educate them in a way that helps them comprehend, extrapolate and retain knowledge.

A Deeper Understanding of Learning

Learning is an information obtaining process. All of us want to get more information and use it. We come to education with our own prior knowledge, skills, and beliefs that affect the way we learn. We all know different things and that affects how we learn and process the information presented to us.

When speaking about pre-existing knowledge, the book, How People Learn, states that “people construct new knowledge and understanding based on what they already know and believe.” As we teach, it is important to realize what our students already know, where they have gaps, and tailor our teaching from there. If we ignore our students’ initial beliefs and ideas, they may come away with understanding that is very far from what we intended.

Learning is a process of transfer. We start with our previous experiences and build from there. When we first learn something, we still use our previous experiences as a filter for the new knowledge. Students do not always make the proper connections with prior experience and new knowledge. As teachers, we need to be aware of where our students are coming from and build bridges to the new information we are trying to teach.

As an example of how our pre-existing knowledge affects our understanding of new information, we can look at Leo Lionni’s book Fish is Fish. This story is about a fish who lives in water but wants to know what it is like to live on land. He asks a tadpole friend to let him know what he finds out when he leaves the water to live on the land. The now frog friend comes back and shares what he found, describing the things he saw – cows, people, birds. In the fish’s mind, each one is a variation of a fish. That is all he knows and he does not make connections beyond what he has seen personally.

From this example, it is easy to see that the fish did not have the pre-existing knowledge necessary to create in his mind a true picture of a cow, a bird, or a human. Students are the same. Their prior knowledge is going to affect the way they understand new information and apply it in various situations.

Making Correct Connections

As we understand the pre-existing knowledge inside our students, we can develop lessons that allow them to explore new ideas. It is important that we do not just tell students information. We need to allow them to do inquiry-based investigations of information so they can obtain a deeper and more correct understanding of what they are learning.

In science, for example, this means getting beyond telling students what happens and, instead, letting them discover for themselves the scientific concepts being explored. Various studies have shown that using an inquiry-based learning model helps even young students to understand difficult concepts. We design these lessons so that as they explore, their pre-existing knowledge is connected to the new discoveries and then becomes an understanding of the concept we are teaching.

Homeschool parents need to listen to their students as they teach. In this way it is possible to discover where their thinking is now and then you can build lessons that take them to where you want them to be in the future.