Science Update! Sept. 2017

First Science Update of the school year!

Ms. Paige's Update:

As an overview of our science program, we are in the middle of transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) adopted by the state of California in 2013.  These standards consist of science content standards (topics we need to cover in each grade) and science and engineering practices (skills scientists and engineers use routinely).  This year’s focus is on the science and engineering practices.  Your student will be assessed on these practices in his/her report card.  We will be incorporating the NGSS content standards during the 2018/2019 school year.

5th grade - Mr. Ellingson, Mr. Calubaquib; 4/5 Split Mr. Briggs:

We began our science year by examining how to design an experiment that will actually give us an answer to our question.  In particular, we were learning how to do controlled experiments.  We began by looking at a model system - a pendulum swinging.  A pendulum is a mass (called the bob) suspended from a pivot point and allowed to swing freely.  We brainstormed the variables (factors that might change the outcome of an experiment) that might affect the number of cycles (swing out and back) a pendulum swings in a given length of time.  Students suggested the mass of the bob, surface area of the bob, length of string, release point, material bob hangs from, humidity, and weather might all play a role in how many cycles a pendulum swings in a given length of time.  We decided that if we wanted to know if any of these variables actually played a role in determining the number of cycles/unit time, we would have to change just one at a time to see if it had an effect.  This is the definition of a controlled experiment - only one variable is allowed to change, and the outcome of the change is determined in an experiment.  The variable the scientist chooses to change is called the independent variable.  The variable the scientist measures is called the dependent variable.  The variables that the scientist does not change, or controls, are called the controlled variables.  

We then began by changing just the mass of the bob while controlling all the other variables.  We measured the number of cycles in 15 seconds.  We found our pendulum swung 12 times in 15 seconds with 1 penny.  Amazingly, our pendulum swung exactly 12 times in 15 seconds with 2 pennies, even though this was double the mass  From this, we were able to conclude that the mass of the bob does not affect the number of cycles/unit time.

Next, we changed the length of the string.  Sets of 2 students determined the number of cycles in 15 seconds for 13 different lengths of string from 13cm to 200cm.  When we hung these on the bulletin board in order of the number of cycles in 15 seconds, we saw that the pendulums made a beautiful curve.  It’s honestly an amazing moment.  We even noticed that a few pendulums seemed to not fit the curve.  We re-tested these and found that the first result had been incorrect.  When we put them in the re-tested #cycles/15 second position, they fit the curve perfectly.  We were able to say with confidence that the length of string affects the number of cycles a pendulum swings in a given length of time.  The longer the pendulum, the fewer cycles/unit time.  The shorter the pendulum, the greater cycles/unit time.

After graphing the data, we saw that we could use the graph to predict the behavior of additional pendulums that were not tested.  This is where Mr. Briggs and Mr. Calubaquib’s classes stopped last week.

Mr. Ellingson’s class has begun the science unit, “Mixtures and Solutions.”  In this module, we are trying to understand what happens when different types of matter are mixed.  In particular, when they are combined, they might form a mixture, a solution (a type of mixture in which components are homogeneously distributed), or a chemical reaction.  We will study the periodic table and understand the properties of classes of elements, as well as how to write and balance chemical equations.  It’s a tall order for 5th graders.  Frankly, I didn’t do a lot of these things until 10th grade.  Crazy!  

Because a lot of this is quite abstract, we like to give this unit a focus question related to a topic students care about.  Students a few years back proposed this question as we were studying this unit, and it has stuck.  Our topic - Why do POP Rocks pop?  Honestly, we don’t do candy and sweets every week, I promise!  But a lot of candy involves chemistry, and it ends up being a great muse for the topic.  We began our study by tasting some POP Rocks and hypothesizing about why they pop.  Students had A LOT of ideas!  Some students thought it was a chemical reaction with saliva.  Other students mentioned how they pop when they are in water.  Other students said that the popping was a gas.  It was a great start.  

After that, we introduced some other forms of matter - gravel, kosher salt and powder (diatomaceous earth).  Students observed the properties (characteristics that can be observed) of the solids.  Then they added 50mL of water to each solid and again observed what happened.  The gravel just sat on the bottom.  The kosher salt dissolved (a process when a solid appears to disappear into a liquid) to form a clear liquid.  The powder made a milky white liquid with some powder on bottom.  We said that anytime 2 or more substances are combined and can be taken back apart, then they are a mixture.  

We knew all these solids had been combined with water, but could they be taken back apart?  We experimented with how to separate our mixtures.  We found a wire mesh screen was only able to separate the gravel and water mixture.  We then found a coffee filter in a funnel was able to separate the diatomaceous earth and water mixture but not the salt and water mixture.  We learned that a salt and water mixture is a special kind of mixture called a solution.  A solution is a mixture where one material dissolves in another to form a transparent mixture that cannot be separated via filtration.  Students realized that the water could be removed from the salt using evaporation, and Mr. Ellingson set up a demonstration evaporation dish to leave in the window for the week.

4th grade - Mr. Calubaquib, Ms. Washington

Our first science module is called “Solid Earth”.  In this module, we are trying to understand the processes responsible for changing the surface of the earth over time.  In this way, we are acting as geologists, scientists who study minerals, rocks, and landforms to understand how the earth has changed and continues to change over time.

We started our studies by thinking about the structure of the earth.  We did this by making a model of the earth using Playdough.  Scientists use models for many reasons.  Students suggested models are useful for communicating and testing ideas.  We decided they were also useful since they allow us to study things too large or too small to bring into the lab.  

For our model of the earth, we started with a red ball of Playdough that represented the inner core of the earth.  The inner core is extremely hot (5000-6000°C) and a solid due to the extreme pressure it is under. It is made of iron. Thus, it is a giant metal ball!  

Next, we wrapped our red inner core with an orange layer representing the outer core. The outer core is slightly cooler (4000-5000°C), and it is a liquid.  It is iron and nickel, but as a liquid, it flows around the solid inner core.

The outer core was wrapped with yellow Playdough representing the mantle.  The mantle is the thickest layer of the Earth, and is what we refer to as magma (molten rock).

Outside the mantle, we added the earth's crust, modeled as brown Playdough.  The crust is the layer we live on, a pleasant 22°C, and the thinnest layer of the earth.  

We added green to represent the plants/trees on the continents, and blue to represent the oceans.  

Last, we used dental floss to cut our model in half and see the layers in cross-section.  We discussed what parts of our model accurately represented our system and what parts did not.  We decided that this model shows the layers and attempted to show the depth of each layer.  This model also emphasized the temperature changes using colors most of us associate with heat.  However, our model did not represent the solid/liquid attributes of the layers or the fact that many of these layers are in constant movement due to convection currents.

Next, we used a different model to test what kinds of landforms occur at tectonic plate boundaries.  We learned that the earth’s crust and outer mantle are broken into large masses called tectonic plates.  These plates float on the underlying liquid lower mantle.  Where they meet, new geologic features can form.  We simulated this using graham crackers as tectonic plates and whipped cream as magma.    We looked at what happened when plates 1.) slide past each other -> earthquakes, 2.) moved apart -> trenches, mid ocean ridges, volcanoes, or 3.) collided -> mountains, volcanoes, trenches.  This is where Mr. Calubaquib’s class is currently.

Ms. Washington’s class has done one more modeling experiment this past week.  Ms. Washington’s class is learning about the rock cycle.  There are 3 major types of rocks: igneousmetamorphic, and sedimentary.  The rock cycle describes the processes that allow one kind of rock to become another kind of rock.  For instance, sedimentary or metamorphic rock can become igneous rock if they melt completely into magma (molten rock) and then harden.  

I gave students two balls of different colored play dough.  I told them to imagine that these are 2 different igneous rocks.  How could they model the rock cycle using this playdough.  They began by trying to model sedimentary rock formation.  Some students realized that they needed sediments (small broken pieces of rocks) to form sedimentary rock.  They “weathered” our playdough by breaking off small bits of different colors of playdough.  Then they "eroded" the playdough by moving all the small bits together like rivers would move sediments to a lake or ocean.  Then they layered the different colored sediments and compacted them.  We saw that the resulting model was made of small bits of playdough that broke off easily.  

Next, they tried to use their sedimentary rock models to make metamorphic rock models.  They subjected their sedimentary rock models to heat and pressure using theirhands.  The resulting metamorphic rock models had bands of distinct color that were wavy.  

Last, they tried to model the complete melting and hardening that forms igneous rocks.  They realized that when rocks melt into magma, all of their components mix completely.  To simulate this with our playdough, they mixed their playdough until all the colors were fully mixed.   I will be putting some of these models in the display case outside the office in the coming weeks.  Stop by for a peek!

3rd grade - Ms. Song
During the second week of school, we had our first science class of the year! In that first lesson, we reviewed scientific sketching and how to observe (to study closely) objects using our 5 senses.  We then did some sketching practice in a new way - speed sketching.  We first looked at the shapes that are inherent in objects or animals.  Students practiced sketching animals from photos on their table by first drawing the large shapes they saw (e.g. oval for torso, oval for head, rectangles for legs, triangles for wings, etc). After completing a basic drawing, they added details and contours to better capture what they observed.  
Next, students were shown images of animals on the whiteboard for just 30 seconds.  They then had 2 minutes to sketch as much as they could remember. We repeated this for a sea turtle, bird, and kitten.  We compared our sketches to the images afterwards to see how we did.  
What's the point?  First, we get some practice observing again.  We also build some sustained focus.  We find sketches are more accurate when students sketch using shapes.  Last, selfishly - it speeds them up!;). They can spend an hour on a sketch.  We want our students to be careful observers, but this isn't art class.  We want to observe carefully, and then we want to do some experimenting!

We have now moved on to our first science unit, “Sun, Moon and Stars.”

The sun was not initially cooperating for this unit, so we took a week to just learn about the moon.  We started by learning about the lunar cycle and how the phase of the moon changes throughout. We saw that the lunar cycle begins with the new moon, that the moon waxes into a crescent before it reaches the first-quarter moon, then continues to wax until it is a gibbous moon, and finally waxes to a full moon. After reaching a full moon, the moon begins to wane, to a waning gibbous, to third-quarter moon, to a waning crescent, and the cycle is complete with the next new moon.  We were first identifying this phenomenon.  We will go back to it in a few weeks to model what might be causing these apparent changes in its shape over the course of the month.

Thank goodness, the sun decided to grace us again!  In order to understand why the lunar cycle happens, one really needs to know about shadows - cue the SUN!  We began our studies of the sun by charting where the sun is in the sky throughout the day.  Students learned about the four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west, and we learned how to use a compass to find the directions.  We went outside at 9:30am, 12pm, and 1:45pm to chart where the sun was in the sky relative to North.  At the same time, we also drew our shadows on the ground at each of these times, keeping our feet in the same place for each data point.

This past week we analyzed our sun tracking and shadow data.  First, we noticed that the sun appears to move from East to West each day.  Second, we noticed that the shadows get smaller as it approaches noon, and then they get longer again after noon.  Last, we noticed that the shadows faced in different directions in the morning and afternoon.  We talked about how we could try to understand this data.  Since we weren’t quite having an “Aha!” moment, I did a slide lead-in about scientific models.  When I got to the slide on why they are used and came to a point about allowing scientists to experiment on systems too large or too small to bring in the classroom, one student remarked, “like our sun experiment.”  Yes!  We then talked about how we could model our experiment.  What elements would we need?  One student suggested we could use a flashlight as a light source.  Another student thought we needed something to represent our body.  Last, a student thought we needed the shadows on the ground.  Yay!  Just where we were headed!  I gave students a flashlight (sun), cork (our body), and a printout of our shadow data from the week before (shadows on ground).  I asked them to try to figure out why the shadows appear to change size and direction over the course of the day.

After a few minutes of modeling, they realized that the shadows change size because of the changing angle of the sun’s light relative to our bodies.  They also realized that shadows are always on the opposite side of the object from the light source.  Thus, since the sun rises in the East, the shadow starts on the west side.  As the sun is setting in the West, the shadow is on the East side of objects.  We discussed how light travels in a straight line and that shadows are created where light is blocked.

Last, I acknowledged that we all know the sun doesn’t actually move.  It is stationary in the center of our solar system, so why does it appear that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  Again, this was a time for modeling!  I set up a single light bulb in the center of the room to represent the sun that doesn’t move.  Then I gave each pair of students a map of North/South America with the cardinal directions indicated.  One student was to hold the map, and they were to work together to figure out why the sun appears to rise in the East and set in the West.  It was great to see students trying things!!  Some students were moving the map in a vertical circle and seeing that the light didn’t change on the surface.  One set of students had one student turn around (representing the Earth rotating on its axis), but the sun was “rising” in the West and setting in the East.  We came back together discussed our findings, and saw that the Earth rotating on its axis in a counter clockwise direction produces the effect of the sun rising in the East and setting in the West.   

Ms. Caitlin's update:

Pre-K: Last week, we had our first science lesson. We learned that scientists "observe" the world around them, meaning that they look closely at it to learn about it. We can observe the world around us using our five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. We read a book called "Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Five Senses," and we learned about how different parts of our bodies help us to observe.

This past week, we continued learning about our senses, focusing on using our sense of sight and touch to see differences in size, color, shape, and texture to help us sort seeds. Each student was given a scoop of mixed seeds on a paper plate to sort into plastic cups. Students were also given hand lenses to observe the seeds up close.

Pre-K SpEd: We began this year by shelling peas from dried pods that were harvested from the garden last year. The dried peas went into one container, and the husks into another. Once all of our peas are shelled, we can use them for our gardening activity.

Kindergarten: We began the year with an introduction to the science room. After touring the room and learning about the classroom rules and procedures, I showed the students the large poster next to the white board that is made up of words for things that "Good Scientists Do." But since the list is so long, there were three extra important words that we will be learning about, and that will be important every year. Those words are marked by red arrows to remind us. They are observe, compare, and communicate. We began by learning about what observe means. It means to learn about something in the world around you by looking at it closely. Scientists have many ways that they can observe, using their five senses. We looked at a poster showing a girl using her five senses to observe a sunflower. She used her eyes to see the flower, her hands to touch and feel the flower, her ears to listen to the seeds crack when they open, her nose to smell the flower and the seeds, and her tongue to taste the seeds. This was a good opportunity to learn about another science room rule: no tasting in the science room. Sometimes, we will use our sense of taste to make observations, but the science room is not a safe place to do that, so any tasting activities will be out on the yard, or in another classroom. Afterwards, we read a book called "Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Five Senses."

Our first subject for kindergarten science is trees and plants. To start our unit, we took a walk up into Brooks Park to observe some trees. I modeled for the students how to touch the trees and plants respectfully, and we had a chance to observe the leaves and bark of several different trees in the park. After we got back to the classroom, I asked the students whether all the trees in the park had been the same, or whether they were different. They had observed that the trees were different, and I asked them to think about why. What made them different? Why weren't all the trees the same? Some students pointed out that there are different kinds of trees, and that the trees had different bark and different leaves. In the follow-up lesson, we continued thinking about how different kinds of trees can have different leaves and different shapes. We learned that you can sometimes identify a tree by its shape. For this activity, students worked with a a partner to put together puzzles of a variety of tree silhouettes.

During the next class, I introduced the next important science word from our list: compare. Compare means looking at two or more things, and seeing how they are the same, and how they are different. We practiced by comparing my whiteboard markers. Although students were able to spot the big difference right away (color), we saw that in fact, two markers have more things that are the same than they do things that are different. Using our observing and comparing, we would play "Memory" with a partner, using cards that had the same variety of tree silhouettes on them. 

This past week, we have been learning to identify four basic parts of a tree: roots, trunk, branche, and leaves. To help us learn and to practice our comparing, students worked in teams of threes to sort sets of tree part cards. Cards came in three sizes, big, medium, and small. The big cards had a picture of a tree with a certain part colored in black, and the name of the part written below. The medium cards had matching tree parts, but without the labels, while the small cards were the labels only. The teams played in three turns, so that each student had a turn playing each size card. First, the player with the big cards laid them out in whatever order s/he chose. The second player with the medium cards tried to match the order of the big cards, with help from their teammates as needed, and finally, the small card player tried to match the correct label to each tree part.

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

First Grade: Our first lesson this year was a reminder about the important science words from our poster: observe, compare, communicate. To help us practice using these skills, we played a game called "Mystery Cups." Students worked with a partner to try to find out what object was hidden inside their red mystery cups. Since we could not see what was inside of the cups, we had to make observations using our other senses, mostly hearing the sounds the cups made, and feeling the movement inside when the mystery cups were shaken. Clear cups containing a matching set of objects were placed around the room. By comparing how the cups sounded and how they felt, they could try to determine what their mystery cup contained. Lastly, we also used the game to practice communicating, or sharing ideas. Usually, we communicate by talking to each other, so to make the game more challenging, students were not allowed to use talking to share their ideas. To communicate with their partner, they had to use body language. To communicate their predictions about what was in their cups to me, they had to draw or write what they believed their cups contained.

After our introductory lesson, we began learning about our first big idea for first grade science: matter. We learned that matter is anything that takes up space, and that it usually comes in three forms: solid, liquid, gas. We began by observing solids. Each student was given a bag containing seven solid objects to observe and compare: a red plastic triangle, a blue square of fabric, a length of black wire, a metal screw, a wooden craft stick, a wooden cylinder, and a piece of clear plastic tubing. Removing the objects one at a time, the students were asked to make observations about each object while I listed their observations on the board. After we'd gone through each object, we met back on the rug to discuss our results. I explained that the things we had observed about our solids are called their "properties," and that there are many kinds of properties we can observe. For example, looking over our lists, we saw words like "black" for the wire, "red" for the triangle. We also so that there were words like "cylinder," "square," and "triangle." There were also words like "wood," "plastic," and "metal." So we learned that some properties of solids include things like shape, color, and material. We also learned a few new words for properties. The fabric felt scratchy, and the triangle felt smooth. How things feel is the property of texture. Also, many students observed that several objects like the wire and the tube were "bendy," which we have learned is called flexible, and the opposite is not bendy, or rigid

The following week, we practiced identifying properties by playing with a sorting circle. Working with a partner, one student would select one of the properties from a list. Without telling their partner which property they had chosen, the student would place one of the objects that had that property into the circle as a "clue" for their partner. The partner would try to guess which property they were thinking of. If their partner guessed correctly, they would switch roles. If not, the student had to place another object in the circle with the same property, continuing to give clues until their partner had correctly guessed the property. 

This past week, we were introduced to liquids. First, we began by figuring out how to tell solid matter from liquid matter. I had a bag containing a clear plastic cylinder and I asked the students to observe the shape of the solid, and to think about what happened to the solid when I opened the bag, placed the solid in my hand, and in a cube-shaped container. The solid kept its own shape. We compared that to a bag half full of water. When the bag was upright, the water looked like a rectangle. When the bag was tilted and the water in one corner, the water looked like a triangle. When I poured it into the cube container, it became a cube. I asked the students what would happen if I tried to hold the water in my hand, and they predicted that it would spill everywhere. So we concluded that unlike a solid, a liquid does not have its own shape, but gets its shape from its container, and liquids can be poured  from one container to another. The students were then given a set of bottles containing different liquids: water, colored water, cooking oil, hand soap, dish soap, fabric softener, and corn syrup. Working with a partner, they observed the liquids' properties without opening the bottles by shaking, swirling, inverting, and rolling the bottles down a low ramp.

Vocabulary: observe, compare, communicate, matter, solid, liquid, gas, properties, flexible, rigid

Second Grade: Starting second grade marks a big transition for our students. In kindergarten and first grade, all of their work is kept in a science folder. This year, they begin keeping a science notebook. The first lesson was mostly devoted to setting up our notebooks and learning about what a good science notebook should look like. After our notebooks were ready, the first entry was practice doing scientific sketching with an oyster shell, trying to incorporate the ABCDE (accurate, big, colorful, detailed, explained) of sketching that we learned about in years before, and adding observational notes with sentence starters like "I see..." "I notice..." "I wonder..." and "It reminds me of..."

Our first unit for second grade science is all about geology, the study of rocks and how they change. For our first activity, students were given a bag containing a set of six rocks and a short time to observe each rock. After the initial observation, I asked the students to look carefully at their rocks and try to sort them by kinds, whether they thought all six rocks were the same kind, or wether they had two, three different kinds, etc. Most students realized that they had three different kinds of rock in their bags (two pieces of each), although some thought there were four or five. Reminding the students of the word "properties" from last year, we saw that some students had pieces of the same kind of rock, but they appeared different because they were different colors. We made a list of the properties we'd observed, and made a list of properties we can observe about rocks, such as shape, color, pattern, size, texture, and "luster" (how shiny or dull the rock is). Many students had predicted that one of the types of rocks in their set was volcanic, and they were surprised to learn that all three types of rock were volcanic. Basalt was usually black or gray, and came from the heavy lava flow. Tuff is white or yellowish, and is made from volcanic ash. Scoria is red or dark brown and is made from the foam when gas bubbles move through the lava. 

Our next activity was to see whether the properties of rocks could be changed. We attempted to change the properties of the rocks by rubbing them together. I told the students to try all the different combinations and compare the results, and to rub the rocks over pieces of white or black paper. Students were able to observe dust forming on the paper beneath the rocks when rubbed together. They also observed that sometimes the rocks could rub their color off onto another rock. When we thought about what these things could mean, we decided that the dust was actually very small pieces of rock being broken off of the larger pieces we were rubbing together. The reason that a rock would sometimes rub off on another rock was because the harder rock was better at breaking off pieces of the softer rock. We looked at our results, and based on our observations, it seems that basalt is the hardest of the three types of rocks. I told the students that rocks rubbing together is called "weathering," and that this happens in nature. We confirmed that it can change the properties of our rocks in their size and shape.

*In addition to our geology lessons, we have taken our first step into our next unit. Each week, we will begin with very short sketches and observations in our notebooks comparing two organisms: a mealworm, and a second mystery insect (three different insects per classroom). However, we will not be learning anything about our organisms beyond our observations until the geology unit is finished

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

Third Grade: Continuing in our notebooks from second grade, we spent the first science lesson practicing techniques to help us with our scientific sketching, especially at being able to sketch quickly. The first technique is blind contour sketching, where a sketch is done without ever looking down at the paper, and without raising the pencil from the paper. Students practiced this technique by sketching a partner's face for 30 seconds (the students really enjoyed this technique and were very amused with the results). The second technique is shape sketching. In this technique, students look carefully to see what simple geometric shapes make up the object of their sketch. I modeled this technique with an image of a guppy, and they practiced with images of animals for 1 minute, focusing solely on the shapes, not on the details. The final technique was speed sketching. An image would appear and remain for five seconds before fading into white. Using the blind contour technique and shape sketching, students were to focus on the image until it disappeared, then quickly sketch what they had seen in 30 seconds.

Our first unit for third grade is a short unit on astronomy, the study of space, the sun, stars, moons, and planets, and other celestial objects. Because of the limitations based on weather, Room 100 and Room 101 have started on different lessons in the curriculum. Room 100 has begun with observing the sun. We knew that the sun appears to move in the sky, but we wanted to find out which way it moves.We learned that there are four cardinal directions, North, East, South, and West.  We can use a tool called a compass to find the directions. Starting in the morning, we used our compasses to find the cardinal directions and drew a compass rose on the pavement. Standing on the compass road, one partner traced the other's shadow and labelled the time (9:45 am). After the shadows were traced, I stood on a compass rose and pointed toward the sun's position in the sky, while the students filled in a figure on a worksheet showing the direction I was pointing. This was repeated at noon, and then again at 1:45 pm. In our following lesson, we analyzed our data, and we concluded that the sun appears to move from East to West across the sky. Connecting the sun tracking with the shadows was trickier. We could see that the shadow from the morning was longest, was shortest at noon, and then grew a little longer in the afternoon. One student predicted that this was because a shadow is light being blocked, and that the shadow was longer in the morning because the sun  was shining on the side of our bodies, and at noon, it was shining overhead. I asked the students if there was a way to test this prediction, which prompted a discussion of scientific models. Scientists can use models to represent things that are too large, too small, or too complex to observe or test in real life. We tried to think of what we might need to model the sun and shadows, and the students came up with: a light source (the sun), an object to block the light (our bodies), and a flat surface (the yard). Using a flashlight, a cork, and the tabletops, we were able to model what we had observed in the yard, and confirmed student's the prediction.

Room 101 had to contend with an overcast day, so we began learning about the moon. We started a KWL chart about what we Knew, what we Wanted to know, and what we Learned. Students wrote what they knew about the moon on a post it, and what they wanted to learn, and placed them in the K and W columns on the chart. Afterward, I showed the class a lunar calendar for the month of September and asked them what they observed. They could see that the moon changed its shape every night, and that it seemed to grow, then shrink, then disappear. We learned that moon goes through a lunar cycle (recalling the life cycles we learned about in 2nd grade), and that its changing shapes are called lunar phases. We learned the names for eight different phases: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent. We learned that waxing means growing, and waning means shrinking. Gibbous means swollen, and is when the moon is more than half full. To practice the new vocabulary, using the lunar calendar page, each student was asked to take their class number, find the corresponding date on the calendar, and determine which phase of the moon was on that date. Afterward, we watched a short video about the lunar cycle and its origin.

 Vocabulary: astronomy, cardinal directions, compass, lunar cycle, lunar phases, new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent