Science Lab Newsletter Volume 2 November-December 2016

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Kindergarden : Our Kindergarten students have been investigating the parts of trees and plants and how these 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 are watching seeds germinate and grow into seedlings. We will conclude Unit One, this month, by doing some planting. We will launch our new Unit on the various properties of different materials. We will then 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 : Our 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 studied animal behavioral adaptations like nest building before 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 various 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 will then learn about materials that conduct and insulate heat energy through experience with various 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 also be comparing examples of static electricity to this “current” electricity.

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 by 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 and we are enjoying other in-lab simulation activities of animal adaptation and Natural Selection by studying bird beaks as an example of an inherited characteristic that can increase birds chances of survival in a particular environment. We will model 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 will conclude 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.

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 just begun a new unit on Food and Nutrition, where we are exploring the nutrients found in various foods by conducting nutrient testing in the lab. We will also be analyzing food labels for information about the nutrients foods contain. We began with an investigation of sugar, to determine both the presence of sugar, and the relative amounts of sugar in certain foods. We are determining the relative amounts of sugar in breakfast cereals, by using the amount (volume) of carbon dioxide gas that yeast produce (as waste when they use the sugar in the cereals for their own metabolic functions) as an indicator.