Hello JOES Families,

Here is this week’s update for science classes Pre-K through 3rd Grade.

Have a great weekend, and happy Friday!



Scientist of the Month: To help promote an appreciation of the rich diversity of the awesome people who have made important contributions to science, we have introduced a “Scientist of the Month.” Once a month, each class will have the first ten minutes of ascience lesson to learn about the life and work of the featured scientist, and the board outside of the library is now devoted to the Scientist of the Month. Our first Scientist of the Month is Dr. Carlos Juan Finlay. The content below is what is featured on the “Scientist of the Month” board, but will be tailored in its presentation to make it accessible to each grade level.


Carlos Juan Finlay was born in Puerto Principe, Cuba in 1833. As a young adult, he studied medicine and became a doctor. He then moved to Havana, the capital of Cuba, and became an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).  When a disease called “cholera” started making people sick in Cuba, Dr. Finlay had an idea that it was because of dirty water. No one believed his idea at first, but later they found out that he was right.

In 1879, the government of Cuba asked Dr. Finlay to help them solve another illness. In Cuba and in other places where the weather was very hot and wet, there was a terrible disease called“Yellow Fever.” Many people got sick with yellow fever, and sometimes even died from it. No one knew how people caught yellow fever, so there was no way to stop people from getting sick. Dr. Finlay thought about the problem. He did experiments, and finally, he had an answer: mosquito bites gave people yellow fever!

But just like with cholera, no one would listen to him! He spent almost 20 years trying to tell other scientists and doctors that mosquitoes would bite a person with yellow fever, carry the sickness in their bodies, and give the sickness to the next person that they bit. Finally, in 1900, other doctors and scientists listened to his ideas and started getting rid of the mosquitoes. When there were fewer mosquitoes, fewer people got yellow fever.


Carlos Juan Finlay worked and studied hard. Even when no one believed him, he kept doing experiments and communicating his ideas until people listened. Because of his hard work and determination, he was able to help people be healthier.


Thank you, Dr. Finlay!


Pre-K (GenEd): We began by reviewing “observe,” and how we use our five senses to look closely at the world and learn about it. This week, we were continued practicing observing with our senses of touch and hearing. Each student was given an set of clear cups taped end-to-end that contained a small item (ping pong ball, paper clips, cotton, pencils, crayons, erasers, sponge, forceps, droppers, vials, tin foil, rubber bands, corks, spoons, beads). Each clear cup was part of a pair, and had a red cup containing the same item. Using our hands to feel the weight of the red cups, and our ears to hear the sounds the cups made when shaken, students tried to find the red cup that matched their clear cup.

Pre-K (SpEd): This week, the students transplanted our fava bean, pea and sunflower seedlings to the planter outside of Bungalow 8. We finished by giving the seedlings a good watering.

Kindergarten: On Monday, we continued using our comparing skills to help us remember the parts of the trees. Working in teams of three, each student was given one set of five cards. Students with the largest cards had cards that featured a picture of a tree with the part of the tree colored black, and the name of the part of the tree written beneath it. This student spread the cards out in whatever order the chose. Their team mate with medium-sized cards went next. The medium cards had matching pictures of trees, but without the labels. The students were encouraged to help each other match the medium card with the right large card. Finally, the student with the smallest cards went last. The small cards had only the label for the name of the tree part on them. Working together, the team had to match the small cards to their medium cards. Once all the cards had been matched together, the cards were shuffled and turns rotated, so that each student had a chance to play each size card.

On Thursday, we began making our tree booklets. The booklets have the same pictures and labels for tree parts that our card game used. Students were given step-by-step instructions on how to cut out and match the right labels to the correct pictures. Once the labels were matched correctly, the students were allowed to glue the labels in place. The books will be completed on Monday, and the students will be able to take them home to share with their families.

Vocabulary: observe, compare, communicate, tree, roots, trunk, branches, leaves, bark

Try this at home: Continue observing and comparing trees and their parts with your child. Try playing a guessing game where you each take a turn thinking of a part of a tree, and giving each other clues until the correct answer is guessed.

First Grade: Now that we’ve spent some time observing solids, it was time to start observing liquids. The first thing we had to do was figure out the difference between solids and liquids. We looked at a sample of solid matter and compared it to a sample of liquid matter. We saw that solid matter keeps its own shape, no matter what container it is placed in. We compared this to liquid matter, whichgets its shape from its container, and that liquid matter can flow and pour. Just like when we began our investigation of solids, the students started by simply observing a set of liquids. Working with a partner, each team was given a set of seven bottles containing different liquids: water, water colored with green food dye, dish detergent, hand soap, fabric softener, cooking oil, and corn syrup. The students were told that they could shake, swirl, roll, or invert the bottles to observe the properties of the liquids, but they were not allowed to open the bottles. They were also allowed to construct a small ramp with a clipboard to observe how the bottles rolled. After observing the liquids, we collected some of our observations: some liquids were very sticky or gooey, rolled slowly and stuck to the sides of the bottles, while others flowed and rolled quickly. Some liquids were able to be swirled to make a “tornado,” and some bottles, when shaken made lots of bubbles in the liquid that lasted for a long time, while other liquid’s bubbles popped quickly. Some liquids, when they were shaken enough, actually changed color (dish detergent changed from clear dark blue to light blue that was not clear). We reasoned that this was because of the bubbles, and that next week, we will learn some new science vocabulary for the properties of liquids.

Vocabulary: matter, solid, liquid, gas, property

Try this at home: With your child, find some liquids around the house or when you are out on a shopping trip. Think about what properties you can observe. Ask your child how they know that the substance is a liquid. Does it flow (move with its container)? Can you pour it? Does it have a shape?

Second Grade: This week, we devoted a lot of time to recording our observations in our science notebooks. First, students recorded a sketch and the properties a sample of basalt, scoria, and tuff. After the students had completed the first sketch, they were given a cup with a small amount of water, and asked to sketch and write their observations about how the properties of their rock samples changed when they were under water. After completing an entry for each sample under water, the students removed the sample from the cup and placed it on a plate for a final sketch and observation of how the rocks looked when wet. Sharing our observations at the end of class, we saw that the colors and patterns of different rocks often change when they are placed in water. Some types of rock, such as the scoria, produce a lot of bubbles when they are placed in the water. Some students even had their scoria sample float for a few seconds before sinking. We also observed that rocks that were wet looked shinier and felt smoother than they had when dry.

Vocabulary: geology, property, basalt, scoria, tuff, weathering

Try this at home: Try placing some rocks you find around your home or neighborhood (or the ones in your rock collection, if you have started one) into water and note how the properties change.

Third Grade: (Ms. Paige did such an awesome job writing this lesson up when her students did it last week, so this is mostly borrowed from her update.)

We reviewed that an energy source is where energy comes from, and an energy converter is something that converts (or changes) energy from one form to another.  wrote these four categories on the board:

“Energy Source Energy Form A Energy Converter Energy Form B”

I put cartoon pictures of batteries, electricity, light and a flashlight on the board.  We worked together to assign each cartoon to one of the 4 categories.  Batteries are an energy source.  Electricity is Energy Source A.  The flashlight is an energy converter.  Light is Energy Form B that comes out of the flashlight.

I then handed out a cartoon picture to each student of one of the components from our 5 energy exploration stations last week.  I asked if there was a student who thought they had an energy converter (those are usually the easiest for students to identify).  Someone raised their hand that had a tone generator.  We put that on the board under energy converter.  Then we talked about where the energy for it came from – batteries.  We added that.  What energy came out of the batteries and into the tone generator – electricity.  What energy came out of the tone generator – sound/vibration.  Slowly, we worked our way through all 5 examples.

We had some very interesting discussions along the way.  For instance, a student realized that a lightbulb is both an energy converter and an energy source.  We then discussed how actually batteries are energy converters – converting chemical energy into electricity.

We saw that these energy conversions aren’t just one conversion.  There are series of conversions.  Candle wax is a fuel, like gasoline, wood, coal, or natural gas.

We then went back to our tables with a set of 6 energy source cards (wood, sun, battery, candle, apple, gasoline), 6 action cards (heat, light, chemicals, machine motion, muscle movement, electricity), and a bunch of arrow cards.  Students were encouraged to connect the energy source to its actions with the arrows.  Many students start by trying to match just one energy source to one action.  After some encouragement, they realize how an energy source can cause lots of different actions and an action can be caused by several different energy sources. After the students had finished making their energy source/action connections, they were given a worksheet with the same energy sources and actions listed in columns, and told to connect the sources and actions by drawing the arrows. On the back of the worksheet was a scenario about two boys observing a truck driving by. Brad remarks to his friend that the truck was powered by the sun, and his friend replies, “No it isn’t! It’s powered by gasoline.” The students were asked to think about what they had learned about energy conversion and sources, and to brainstorm how both Brad and his friend could be right. We will discuss the answer in the coming lesson.

Vocabulary: energy, energy converter, energy source, fuel

Try this at home:  Try to think about where the energy for the activities you do at home come from.  When you turn on the TV, where did the energy come from?  Keep tracing it back and back and back to see how many conversions had to happen to get that glowing light in your living room.