May 8

Sundials

After a brief lesson about shadows, the compass rose, and the history and parts of a sundial, fourth grade scientists made a make and take sundial. Love the way this activity connects with angles. The toothpick is the gnomon. We investigated how a sundial works with a flashlight. The sundial must point to the North. Leave the sundial outside or in a sunny window to watch the passage of time. Click here to learn more.

April 30

Magnets

Third graders continued their investigation of magnets. They explored how magnets repel and attract with floating magnets.

Then, we aligned electrons to magnetize a paperclip and created a temporary magnet.

Magnets attract iron which is the 26th element on the Periodic Table and an essential nutrient. We discovered that iron fortified cereal contains pieces of iron. We used a neodymium magnet to pull the iron out of the cereal. Click here for more information.

A compass is a lightweight magnet and the needle lines up with the earth’s magnetic field. Lab partners used these compasses to demonstrate the magnetic field of the magnet they encircled. When we switched the poles, the needles turned. Click here to learn more. Fascinating!

January 31

Icebergs

Kindergarten classes continued their study of polar regions. I explained to my kindergarten scientists that an iceberg is a large piece of floating ice. I placed consecutively larger pieces of ice in a tank of water. Before I did, the children drew a picture to hypothesize what they thought the ice would look like in the water. Would it sink or float? Following this investigation, we looked at photos of real icebergs and observed that while ice floats, most of the ice is under water. Does that mean that solid ice is less dense than liquid water? As the ice melted, we watched the food coloring fall into the water.

Then we drew a path for a drop of water and placed the path in a page protector. Using friction, cohesion, and adhesion, scientists guided their drops through the path. (See previous posts for more details on this activity.)

January 24

Aurora Borealis

Kindergarten students continued their study of the polar regions. After making frost, we “traveled” to Antarctica to see the Northern Lights. Click here ¬†and here to learn more about auroras. God created an invisible shield, that is also a thing of beauty, to protect us. We used flashlights and CDs to refract light. See previous posts to learn how we made frost with ice, rock salt, and water.


 

November 19

Analytics

I find the analytics on my science blog fascinating! I can’t see who is visiting, but the data tells me from where a viewer is visiting and when he/she reads my blog. I’ve had more international visitors recently. In the past, those visitors have been parents traveling for business.

November 19

Green Screen

I’ve wanted to learn how to use green screen, so alter watching several webinars, I was ready to give it a try. I enlisted the help of Pre-First. In their homeroom, Mrs. Daniel read Balloons Over Broadway, the fascinating story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Watch this interesting biography below:

Pre-First students also watched a video clip of the balloons in a past Macy’s parade, and then they designed and constructed a balloon to include in the 2020 parade.

At the beginning of lab, we visited the Tiger TV studio to learn more about how green screen works. Mrs. Williams was able to change our background (which we could see on the monitor) because we had a green screen behind us. Thank you Mrs. Williams!

I also demonstrated how I will use my green screen app, Doink, to place their balloons in the parade. Click here to learn about the Doink Green Screen app.

I made a green screen with a tri-fold display board which I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. (Place one of these behind you before a Zoom call, and your virtual background will improve.) I snapped a picture of each of their balloons and now I need to put all the parts together on my app. Final project coming soon!

November 12

Tipi Engineering

Second graders have been studying the Cherokee and Creek nations in their homerooms. I wanted to do a STEM lab to reinforce the major concepts that they have been learning, and I believe multidisciplinary learning is a best practice in education. The two big ideas were: Native people used the resources that were available to them and the area in which they lived determined their culture. We briefly discussed the Native Americans who lived in the Eastern woodlands, plains, and Southwest, but our lab focused on how the people groups who lived on the plains constructed tipis – an amazing engineering feat! The people who inhabited the Great Plains were nomadic and followed the buffalo. Click here to watch an informative video. Click here to read an article about tipis.

This proved to be a difficult task, especially since we were not working on the ground. As we faced challenges, we collaborated to overcome them, and failed forward. We learned that the shape of a tipi is a cone. We cut a circle to form our cones and folded the circle twice to find the center. We drew a smaller circle around the center and cut a slit to it. One of my students compared this process to a Christmas tree skirt-a useful analogy!


Teams chose their own sticks and formed a tripod first.

November 10

Random Sample and Hydrophobic Sand

Third grade reviewed the skeletal system and labeled their pasta skeletons at the beginning of lab. Then, we continued our study of the earth with an investigation of magic sand. Of course it ‘s not magic, it’s science! We used the sand to explore the concept of hydrophobic (water fearing) and hydrophilic (water loving). Although you drop the sand in the water, it is completely dry when you take it out. How is that possible? So much fun watching them investigate its properties.

 

Third grade geologists randomly sampled a model Earth (an inflatable globe) to determine the percentage of Earth’s surface that is covered with water. We threw the globe ten times and each person caught the globe with ten fingers which totaled 100%. We added the amount of finger tips that were touching water when the globe was caught. Then we added those ten numbers together. The totals from the three classes¬† were 74, 76 and 73. According to the USGS, approximately 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. The accuracy of this activity always amazes me!

November 6

Landforms

After an introduction to landforms, third grade geologists used kinetic sand to form them. Kinetic sand is 98% sand and 2% non-toxic polymer. As we worked, we discussed where these landforms are located in the world and characteristics of each. Click here to learn more about landforms. As you travel, identify the landforms you see.

May 2

Treasure Maps

Every week during online learning, I give my scientists an outdoor challenge. In this activity, I encouraged them to draw a map of their properties or yards, adding as many details as possible. I showed them examples of maps that also included compass roses and keys. The next step was to hide a treasure of some kind, and then place an x on the map to indicate where it was hidden. Finally, the map was given to someone and he/she searched for the treasure using the map.