gator science

active adventures in lower school science

Testing Materials for our Solar Ovens

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3rd Grade students are excited about making their solar ovens this month in science. Before we build the homemade ovens, students are testing different materials to find out if they help insulate heat energy.  Students tested the flat and shredded materials in an ice bath for 3 minutes.  They recorded the change in temperature and discovered which materials were good insulators.  With our big ice baths, thermometers, and timers, the third graders acted as careful scientists.  Using the data, they will able to design their solar ovens as creative engineers.

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Crow and the Pitcher

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The Kindergarten had a fun STEM lesson using the familiar Aesop’s fable of the Crow and the Pitcher.  Students predicted which object would make the water displace higher after dropping 10 of each object into a graduated cylinder. The competition was as follows;

#1 glass aquarium rocks

#2 pennies

# 3 silver washers

The difference in the amount of displacement had to do with the weight, size, and shape of the material. The material the object is made of also determines how much water is displaced. The crow used the many qualities of a scientist and engineer which included never giving up, being resourceful, and embracing a challenge.

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Classifying Insect Orders

5th Grade students have been visiting Ashbridge Park each week during the month of May to work on their insect field guide.  The project is part of their Greek Laurel, as all the orders of insects have scientific names that come from Greek words.  Coleoptera is the most common order of insect  (meaning “sheath wings”) and includes all beetles. Students were able to catch the insects with our field nets and observe them in a container.  They described important field marks and made detailed sketches in their field guides.  It’s a great way to end our year long stream study of the Mill Creek.

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2nd Grade Gears

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2nd Grade have been learning about gears and simple machines using the Lego WeDo kits in our maker space.  Student built a gator and spinning top and observed the different gears we put in the design.  We used a gear train that included a crown gear and learned how to program the gator to move its mouth and the spinner to spin at different speeds.

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5th Grade Super Surber Sample

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5th Graders have spent the year studying the health of the Mill Creek in nearby Ashbridge Park.  This week, students collected three surper samples of  macroinvertebrates found in the stream.  During our day out at the stream we found a large diversity of macroinvertebrates that included midges, caddisflies, crane flies, mayflies, scuds, and an isopod. We brought the three samples back to the classroom and counted all the different types of macroinvertebrates found in our samples.  By doing this study we will be able to find the mathmatical value that indicates the health of the stream.  Thanks to Tom and Chelsea from Lower Merion Conservancy in Gladwyne for helping us complete this project.

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4th Grade Engineering

 

4th Graders have begun a rotation working with different kinds of electronics to prepare for their innovation days as fifth graders next year.  The are rotating groups over a 6 week period.  Some Students have been working on programming Lego Mindstorms.  Another group of students have been working on inventing with Little Bits.   The third group is learning about circuits and electricity using snap circuits.  There has been a lot of positive energy in our science classroom and maker space this past week.

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5th Grade Stream Study finds drop in Chloride Levels

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During a week of heavy rains, the fifth graders tested the stream for chlorides and found a significant drop in the levels measured after snowstorms in January and February.   The rain caused a rise in the water level.  Water was traveling quickly and causing lots of white caps over the rocks.   The lower levels of chloride in the water is beneficial to the many creatures living in the stream.

January Blizzard Chloride Level – 600 g/mL

February Snow – 240 g/ mL

March 14 Chloride Level – 120 g/mL

 

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Stream Study after the January Blizzard

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5th Grade students tested the Mill Creek to see if there was any changes due to the recent blizzard last weekend.  We gathered the sample of water near Ashbridge Park by the side of the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work parking lot.   The clear stream was moving faster and seemed higher than the last time we visited the stream a few months ago.  We recorded the following data after bringing the water back to the classroom.

air temp – 5 C   water temp – 3 C

current weather – cloudy skies

Nitrate – 2 ppm

pH – 7.5

Chloride – 600 mg/L

Dissolved Oxygen – 7 ppm

 

We found the chloride level to be particularly high for the stream.  This can be explained by all the salt that accumulated in the stream after the winter storm.  All the salt from the roads enters the watershed into our local streams.  Looking forward to measuring data for the month of February – wonder if we’ll get more snow?

 

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Making a Foam Gnome!

4th Graders have been exploring the differences between mixtures and compounds in science.  Students observed a chemical reaction when they added an acid poly A to a base poly B.  The product created was polyurethane foam.  When they mixed the two liquids they created a new compound after observing air bubbles, heat, a change in state, and a change in color.  Students loved decorating their foam gnomes in the maker space at the end of class.

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Season of Lights

During Innovation Day this week the fifth grade students were working on designing a paper circuit using cardboard, copper tape, and a 3v battery. Students chose holiday themes, sports themes, and animal themes to celebrate their successful circuit.

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