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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tagging Monarchs

At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Fenker, an upper school teacher, mentioned that she was part of a Monarch tagging program, and asked if we would be interested in getting a caterpillar to raise. A couple of weeks ago we got our jar, and watched as our caterpillar munched away at astounding volumes of milkweed leaves... Before we knew it, the caterpillar was in its "J" position at the top of the jar, and the next morning was encased in a stunning bright green chrysalis with tiny gold beads. We waited patiently, and got excited this morning when the chrysalis was completely transparent, and the butterfly's wings were visible. Within an hour of arriving at school, the Monarch emerged! Mrs. Fenker came by before lunch, and talked to the class. We helped her tag the Monarch, and this afternoon released her (it's a girl!!) for her long flight to Mexico.

Just beginning to see the wing pattern through the chrysalis!

Minutes after coming out

Mrs. Fenker shows us how to tell whether it is a boy or a girl!

Holding the butterfly carefully to tag it.

The sticker in place!

The wings continue to dry

Finally, she spreads her wings, telling us she is ready to be released!

We opened the jar, but she was a bit shy...

Took her out on the stick...

Mrs. Grayson had to coax her a bit...

First flight! On her way to Mexico!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fabulous Fossils

Our class is really starting to look forward to our Science Enrichment resource classes, thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Deeley! This week, enriching our study of rocks and fossils, Mrs. Deeley met with the class to discuss how fossils are formed, and what fossils found in the different layers of sedimentary rock can reveal to us about Earth's past. Then we headed out to the garden for a fossil hunt! Mrs. Deeley had buried some of her treasured fossils, most of which were from organisms that existed over a million years ago! Our resourceful archaeologists discovered that once they found remains at a certain level, that they were likely to find more at the same depth! Here's to messy learning!!

Using brushes to clean off the fossils

Hey, that's really cool. Can I see it?

He worked hard to dig this one out!

Mystery Skype!

Mystery Skype is an exciting program where students from states all around the U.S. are connected to learn about the different states and regions of our beautiful country. Students receive (or place) a Skype call to another classroom, and the classes play a game similar to 20 questions, asking yes or no questions about the state's geography to try to figure out where they are. These are great exercises in teamwork, deductive reasoning, problem solving, and connected learning.

Of course to be able to answer questions about our own state, we began with some research on Virginia. Using their netbooks, students learned how to find and use several different kid-safe search engines that are bookmarked on our class Diigo page, and learned facts about Virginia's geography, history, landmarks, and famous people. Did you know that EIGHT United States presidents were born in Virginia?

This past week we had our first Mystery Skype call with Mrs. Diaz's 5th grade class in California. During the call we had a team of students analyzing maps, a team determining our next question, a team answering questions, and a team keeping track of information on the front board. Both classes had a great time, and were able to successfully guess each other's location! After both locations were revealed, the classes had a few minutes to chat and share special facts about their state and school. See the Mystery Skype Map at the bottom of the page where we'll keep track of everyone we've met!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Learning About Air as Matter

Our second Science Enrichment class was so much fun! Mrs. Deeley used activities with balloons to help us prove that air is matter, and therefore has mass (weight) and takes up space. We also blew up balloons and placed them in coolers with either hot water or ice to see how the particles in the air moved to make the balloons either expand or contract! So much learning and so much FUN!

Mrs. Deeley explains how to measure the circumference of the balloon in centimeters.

Wow... This balloon filled with air is heavier than the empty one! Air has mass.

Exploring the effects of heat and cold on air.

Measuring to see how the circumference changed after being in a hot or cold environment.

Why can't we blow up the balloon inside the bottle???

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rainy Day Recess Fun!

We had no sooner stepped out the door when the raindrops started to fall... No fair! So we invited Mrs. Schweer's class to the MPR for a fun teamwork game...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mad Science in 4th Grade!

Our first Science Enrichment resource was a hit! The students tested three different dish soaps to see which had the most detergent. Science rocks!! Embedded in the fun were learning about metric liquid (mL) and length (cm/mm) measurements, and math terms like "diameter". In addition, students learned about lab safety and the scientific process as they observed, recorded data, and made conclusions!