Science Lab Newsletter November-December 2015

IMG_1969IMG_1975 IMG_1915 Kindergarten: Our Kindergarten students have been investigating the parts of plants and how they enable plants to survive.We have been studying the life cycle of flowering plants and trees by closely examining flowers, fruits and seeds. We cut open fruits, we dissected seeds and we watched seeds germinate and grow into seedlings. We concluded Unit One, this month, by doing some planting. We are launching our new Unit on the various properties of different materials. We will be exploring and comparing properties by beginning with a close study of wood and then paper. We will start by observing, describing and experimenting with different samples of wood, from different types of trees, and will be extending the use of our senses to observe, by using some science tools, such as the balance scale, hand lens, ruler and thermometer.

First Grade: First graders have become animal experts as they explored their Animal Diversity unit. We studied fish through observation and research and found out about how unique these animals are. We learned about the food chain and watched real examples of how animals pass along food energy from plants to other animals in classroom terrariums, with our crickets and chameleons (reptiles) First graders also had lab experiences where they explored the concepts of animal life span, and adaptation while also learning how to present information collected during experiments using data tables, charts and bar graphs (or histograms). We will study animal behavioral adaptaions like nest building befoe begining our second unit on the “Properties of Matter” by starting with an exploration of the many properties of solid objects such as texture, hardness, flexibility, luster and buoancy.

Second Grade: The Second graders have been continuing to explore Earth’s Materials. We sorted rocks based on their size, using various sized screens. We discovered and learned about rock sizes that are smaller than sand, such as silt and clay, by preparing settling vials with water. We also studied the many uses of Earth’s materials as natural resources, and used real earth clay to build models of volcanoes that we then used to investigate how volcanoes change earth’s surface! We will study mineral samples and perform an in class “excavation” of fossils from rock to experience how paleontologists find out about organisms that lived in the past by studying the remains they leave behind in Sedimentary rock. We will then move onto Unit 2: Forces and Motion where we will start off exploring balance and weight distribution using many exciting materials in the lab.

Third Grade: The third graders moved from the Matter Unit onto their Energy Unit with several temperature investigations. We are learning about heat or thermal energy and what it means to be “hotter” (gaining heat energy) or “colder” (losing heat energy). We measured the temperature of various water samples, and made predictions about what happens to heat when samples at different temperatures are mixed. Students are reading thermometers and recording data using degrees Celsius, the standard metric unit for temperature. We are also learning how to graph temperature data that we have collected during our experiments, and we are practicing how to interpret, make predictions and draw conclusions from the graphs we create. We are now learning about materials that conduct and insulate heat energy through experience with these materials (such as plastic, wood and metal) This month we will also begin to experiment with other forms of energy such as electricity by using electrical circuits to explore the idea of energy flow and transfer. We will be comparing static electricity to this “current” electricity and testing out which materials are good conductors and good insulators of electrical energy.

Fourth Grade:The Fourth graders have been exploring many ecological principles like adaptation, competition, migration, and hibernation by playing games that simulate many of these concepts. We made predictions and collected data as we observed how changing environmental conditions, can affect populations of organisms. Students learned how to interpret the data they collected during our games, and how to make inferences from closely examining their data. They also learned to graph the data they collected, to make it easier to study. We had lots of fun dissecting owl pellets to investigate predator-prey relationships. We modeled an oil spill as a staring point for the last portion of our unit on Plants and Animals in their Environment: Human Impact on the Environment. We are concluding the unit with group research projects on topics related to human activities and their affects on our Earth, Habitats, Ecosystems and specific species such as: water pollution, fossil fuel use, habitat destruction and climate change! We will present these projects in a fourth grade “gallery walk” and then move on to Unit 2: Magnetism and Electricity, by conducting tests with magnets and exploring magnetic field and how magnetic force can operate on objects through different materials. We will be learning about induced magnetism by using magnets to make other steel or iron objects temporarily magnetic. We will also investigate what materials make good conductors and insulators of electricity by building electrical circuits and performing tests.

Fifth Grade: Fifth grade scientists concluded Unit 1 on The Nature of Science with an experiment involving lifeboats, and the relationship between the capacity of our model boats, and the number of passengers that the boats could support before sinking. We practiced identifying the different kinds of variables (dependent and independent) in controlled experiments and how to identify them and graph the results we collect. We have begun a new Earth Science unit: Changes in the Surface of our Planet, with investigations involving the examination of samples of rock that have formed in various ways: igneous (from magma, lava), sedimentary (from sediments, compaction and cementation) and metamorphic (from heat and pressure exerted on any rock type). We are comparing samples and researching to learn about special characteristics that rocks have that can help us to identify how and where they formed. We will study the rock cycle and then do some work with identifying the kinds of minerals present in various rock samples. We will conduct tests on rocks and minerals before we move onto studying various landforms, such as mountains using topographic maps!