Hello JOES Families,

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

Have a great weekend, and happy Friday!



Pre-K (GenEd): Continuing our theme of using our five senses to observe, students had a chance to use their sense of sight to help them complete this week’s activity. Each student was given a wooden tongue depressor with a half of a colored shape on each end (dark blue circle, pink heart, dark green square, light blue triangle, orange star, yellow crescent, black X and light green 8). They were told that the matching half of their stick would be somewhere on one of the tables, and that they had to use their eyes to find a stick that had the matching half of both shapes on the ends to complete the set. Once they had found their first match, they were given a new stick with different shapes to match.

Pre-K (SpEd): While we care for our seedlings in the planter boxes and wait for them to bloom, we are making some paper flowers bloom as well. Each student was given two white coffee filters as the petals for our flowers, and allowed to color them with washable markers. When the students were done with coloring, each filter was sprayed with a water from a spray bottle, causing the colors to blend together in interesting ways. The petals will be attached to a pipe cleaner stem.

Kindergarten: On Monday, the students had a chance to finish their Tree booklets to take home. We also took the first part of the classon Monday to talk about the Scientist of the Month, Dr. Carlos Juan Finlay (see last week’s update for more info).

On Thursday, we began talking about leaves. Just as when we began looking at tree shapes (our tree puzzles and memory game), we could see that each leaf outline in our set comes from a different kind of trees because each is a different shape and size. We also introduced a set of geometric shapes to compare the leaf outlines to. Some were familiar, like circle, rectangle, triangle, heart, oval andegg, while others were new. We saw that a “wedge” is like a triangle, but with rounded corners, a “spear” is like an oval, but with pointed ends, and a “paddle” is like a circle combined with a long rectangle. Working with a partner, the students completed an activity that helped them practice comparing and communicating. Each pair was given a mat with the nine geometric shapes on it, and a set of leaf outline cards. The first student would take a card from the top of the pile, and begin her turn by showing it to her partner and asking which geometric shape the leaf outline reminded him of. After listening to her partner’s opinion, her partner would ask her what shape the leaf outline reminded her of. She would share her opinion, and then have the final decision of where to place her card on the mat, and then hand the deck of cards to her partner to begin his turn. The activity continued until each card had been placed by the geometric shape it resembled (more than one leaf outline could be placed next to each shaped, depending upon the students’ choice).

Vocabulary: observe, compare, communicate, circle, triangle, rectangle, heart, oval, egg, spear, wedge, paddle

Try this at home: Start a leaf collection from trees in your neighborhood or local park. Ask your child what shapes the leaves remind them of. Try to find some examples of our nine geometric shapes, and see how many you and your child can spot.

First Grade: After a quick review of how to tell the difference between a solid and a liquid (the former keeps its own shape, the latter gets its shape from its container), we read over some of the properties of the liquids that we had observed last week that were written up on the board, and as with our properties of solids lesson, we learned some better science vocabulary to refer to the properties of our set of liquids (water, water with green dye, cooking oil, hand soap, dish soap, fabric softener, corn syrup). For liquids that the students had described as having the property of being “sticky,” “gooey,” or “thick,” we learned the word “viscous” to describe liquids like corn syrup, hand soap, and dish soap. The students had also observed that most of the liquids would form bubbles when shaken, and we learned that a liquid can be described as “bubbly” if it had bubbles throughout the liquid, or “foamy” if the bubbles mostly appeared at the top of the liquid. We also observed that most of the liquids “have color” (brown, dark blue, dark green, teal, orange, yellow). We saw that while some liquids that we would call “see-through” are better called “transparent,” while liquids we could not see through were called “translucent.” We also did a demonstration to help us understand the difference between transparent and translucent liquids. The classroom lights were turned off, and some of our transparent liquids were held up in their bottles against a flashlight. These liquids allowed a lot of the light to pass through, so that we could see it on the ceiling. Translucent liquids let some light through, so that we could see the light in the liquid in the bottle, but not going through the liquid onto the ceiling. We also saw a sample of an “opaque” liquid (not included in their set of liquids, we used a bottle of black paint for this demonstration). When the flashlight was held against a bottle of opaque liquid, we could not see any light at all. We then had a chance to practice our new science vocabulary by playing the same activity with a sorting circle that had helped us practice learning our properties of solids. Working with a partner, each student shared a set of liquids and a sorting circle mat. One student would start by choosing one of the new properties, and would try to get his partner to guess which property he was thinking of by placing liquids with that property inside the circle, one at a time, until his partner was able to guess.

Vocabulary: matter, solid, liquid, gas, property, viscous, bubbly, foamy, has color, transparent, translucent, opaque

Try this at home: Look for liquids (or solids) that have the properties we are learning about, especially practicing differentiating transparent, translucent and opaque. Transparent and translucent are tricky for students because they are very similar sounding, and because the distinction between translucent and opaque can be difficult to discern. It may be easier to practice using solids (we did an example using a sheet of copy paper as translucent).

Second Grade: This week, we read a story about another junior geologist called “Peter and the Rocks,” about a boy named Peter who, finding himself with nothing to do once school is out, begins collecting rocks. He arranges his rocks by different properties, researches his rock collection at the library, and learns the names of many different kinds of rocks. We compared some of Peter’s observations of his rocks to our observations of our volcanic rock samples last week. In the book, Peter thinks that the prettiest rocks he collects are those found near a stream, because when held under water, the colors of the rocks brighten. We noticed that this was different than what we had observed, as most of the volcanic rocks had seemed to darken when they were wet. We decided to see whether we could get similar results to Peter’s if we also observed rocks collected by a river. Each student was given a bag of “river rocks,” and asked to observe them and try arranging them, as Peter had, by different properties: size, shape, color, pattern, texture, “luster” (shininess). After observing and arranging the river rocks dry, the students were given a cup of water and allowed to place their river rocks into the water to observe the property changes. We saw a variety of results. Some rocks had their colors darken, as we had seen with volcanic rock, where others had their colors brighten, as Peter’s had. An interesting observation some students made was that some rocks would appear brighter while under water, but then be darker when taken out but still wet.

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

Try this at home: At the library, or using online resources, try to identify a rock your child finds, or one (or more) from their collection. In the book, Peter, after his visit to the library, identified several rocks in his collection, practiced writing and saying the names of his rocks, and made labels for the rocks in his collection.

Third Grade: We picked up this week’s lesson with the question from last week about the truck that Brad and his friend observed. We learned that gasoline is a form of fuel that is made from oil. Oil, like coal and natural gas, is a fossil fuel, meaning that it is made from the fossilized remains of ancient plants and animals. The ancient animals got their energy from eating plants, and the plants got their energy from the light from the sun. So both Brad and his friend were right. A truck runs on gasoline, but it also, in a way, runs on sunlight.

This week, we concentrated on understanding energy “transfer” or how energy moves from one place to another. There were four energy transfer stations for the students to observe. The first station had the battery-powered tone generators from the previous activity, except that the students were asked to place grains of rice on the speaker and observe the action when the tone generator was switched on. The second station was bowling: with a tennis ball and empty plastic bottles as pins, the students were asked to simulate a round of bowling, and to observe the energy transfer. The third station was the battery-powered motors from the previous activity, where students needed to connect wires to the ends of AA battery to make the motor spin a small flag. The fourth station asked students to hold a toy spring (slinky) between them, and have one student gather five coils of the spring at one end with their hands, and then release the coils. (The students only had time to complete two of the four stations, but will be completing the other stations next week.) Before class ended, we discussed the concept of “waves” and how they can move up and down or back and forth. The students watched a demonstration of how waves transfer energy by observing a ping pong ball in a basin filled with water, as the water was being pushed by a paddle, and connected the demonstration to the energy transfer we’d observed at the slinky station. We also discussed how energy can be transferred by wires, as with the motor, or by objects in motion, as with the bowling simulation.

Vocabulary: energy, energy converter, energy source, fuel, transfer, waves

Try this at home:  Continue your energy discussions with your child, and expand the discussion to include what is transferring the energy.