January 16

Makerspace Skills

Engineering labs are always a favorite! The purpose is to teach our students skills which they can apply in STEM projects. In this lab, we learned how to connect cardboard in a variety of ways (without using an abundance of tape or glue). Click here to learn more. Then, my engineers were tasked with building a structure using the slot method.

I shared some real-world examples of the slot method.

This engineer discovered how to make a structure that collapses like the one below.

Marielle went home and built another design! Wow!

January 16

Not a Stick

PreK scientists are studying the forest, so our lab focused on trees. After learning the parts of a tree (trunk, branch, twig, and leaves), we looked at a collection of sticks and noted the diversity. Some were long and thin, while others were short and thick. Some of the sticks were covered with lichen and others were curved or branched.

After reading, Not a Stick. we used our imaginations to pretend the sticks on our papers were items other than sticks. Divergent thinking is hard work! What a fun way to connect science, reading, and art. Click here to watch a video of the story. Who is speaking to the pig?

January 13


Soil consists of minerals, air, water, and organic material. It is the foundation of many ecosystem, so as fourth grade continued their study of ecosystems, this lab focused on the properties of soil. Click here to watch an informative video about soil.

We placed soil in a jar with water and shook it vigorously. As the sediments settled, we saw the layers or the texture of  the soil- floating organic material, water, clay particles, silt, and sand. Students will continue to watch the layers settle in their homeroom classes.

Then, classes tested the water retention of the three soils. We poured 20o mL of water into graduated cylinders, filled with loam, sand, or clay. The three classes had different results, but in all three classes, sand held more water in the funnel, and clay always allowed more water through.

In which soil will bean seeds grow the best?  Fourth grade scientists are taking this experiment through the Scientific Process. We are attempting to keep all other variables the same (light, water, cups, and kinds of seeds) to discover if the seeds will sprout and thrive in clay, loam, or sand.  What is your hypothesis?

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January 12


Kindergarten scientists studied reindeer before the holidays. We spent a few minutes at the beginning of the lab observing deer antlers. Look closely and you’ll see that one of the antlers was used as a rodent’s chewy toy.

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January 12


Do bars of soap sink or float?  My kindergarten scientists turned to those sitting beside them and discussed their ideas. Four of the bars sand (including Dove and Dial), but the bars of Jergens and Ivory soap floated. Another scientific discussion followed as the children tried to determine why one bar of soap would float while the other would sink. We concluded that two of the bars must be less dense than water. If it is less dense, could there be air bubbles inside? So, what would happen if we heated the Ivory soap in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds? Look at the before and after pictures below. There is water trapped inside the air bubbles. When it is heated, the water molecules spread out into a gas and the soap expands because the heat has caused it to become more pliable too. Of course, we had to touch it! The texture surprised us because although it looked like whipped cream or snow, it didn’t feel like those at all. My scientists described the texture as soft, dry, and crumbly. Click here for more information about this investigation.


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January 12

Invention Convention

Will one of my third or fourth graders invent something that will rock our world? They are ready to try! We kicked off our fifth annual Invention Convention. I brought in these inventions to illustrate how inventors improve upon the work of those who come before them. After the Invention Convention, inventions will move to our version of the Show Shark Tank which we call Minnow Tank. Click here to view previous blog posts about the Invention Convention and Minnow Tank. (Scroll down.)

Details about the Invention Convention will come home in Friday folders soon.

Click here to watch inventors share their thoughts on inventing.

Click here to watch Molly, a kid inventor, who became an engineer.

The typewriter was especially interesting to my scientists. I demonstrated how the return, the cap lock, and the space bar work in much the same way as they do on the keyboards we use today.

I am inventing a new student desk. I made these changes last year, and I continue to look for additional ways to bring desks into this century!