Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What would you change to make your rain gauge work better?

Third grade is working on:

3-ESS2-1.


Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.


The first step was to create a rain gauge to measure precipitation. Students followed a step by step plan on how to build an accurate rain gauge.



              






These gauges were monitored and data was recorded in weather journals.



          



The unexpected happened next: an uncommonly strong wind storm swept through western Oregon (and the Joseph Gale courtyard where the gauges had been placed to measure the precipitation.)


                                                 



Students realized they needed to engineer these rain gauges differently to withstand weather elements.

Solutions included:
Adding more rock to the bottom for weight.






Adding rock around the base for support.



Using a larger, wider container.




Friday, January 16, 2015

12 Days of Oregon Landforms

In second grade, students are currently working on:

2ESS2-2: Develop a model to represent 
the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
This standards intertwines the scientific practice of modeling, the crosscutting concept of finding that landforms are shaped in certain ways all over the Earth by wind and water in repeatable patterns, and the core idea of creating and reading maps that show where land and water are located. In order to prepare for building their own landscape model of Oregon, they have spent the past weeks learning about the features of different landforms and finding examples of these landforms in Oregon.

They have read books like The 12 Days of Christmas in Oregon and What is a Landform?


to give them ideas to get them started. The teachers also engaged students in helping them create a pictorial of Oregon using the different features and examples they have learned about in the past weeks. 
 
The next step will be for students to make their own two dimensional pictorial and eventually make their own three dimensional model.

When I observed Melanie Fielder's second grade class, her class was creating the pictorial on the right. The class could easily answer that landforms were "anything naturally formed by the Earth."

They also generated several examples of landforms found in Oregon such as, "Sea Lion CavesCrater Lake-volcanoesOregon Coast, and the Columbia Gorge. Some of the features were already on the pictorial and some were added as their conversation went on. As students identified and described the different landforms, the corresponding text was added to their pictorial. Here were some of the landforms they talked about and gave an example of where we would find that landform in Oregon.
Mountain Range (Cascade Range)-many of our mountains are volcanoes; feature: rise high in the sky (10,000 ft or higher); usually have peaks (Crater Lake is an exception)
Glaciers -frozen freshwater (Mt. Hood)
Coastline-covered with sand/pebbles/rocks, where the ocean meets the beach
Waterfalls-flows over a cliff or down a slope (Silver Falls)
Rivers-flow to the ocean usually but some do not due to dams/reservoirs (Gale’s Creek & Tualatin River)
Ocean-large body of water that contains saltwater and covers most of the Earth (Pacific)
Lake-water collects in a valley (Hagg)
Hill-rounded on top (Portland)
Plains-mostly flat (Eastern Oregon)
Cliffs-steep rocky ledge (Gorge & Coast)

After talking about waterfalls, rivers, and oceans, students stopped to compare and contrast that rivers and waterfalls had fresh water while the ocean had salt water. They also noted that the ocean is a much larger body of water than a river or waterfall but also found the common thread that waterfalls flow into rivers which flow into the ocean.

To conclude the lesson, students were suppose to think of their favorite landform and then use gestures, examples, descriptions, or clues to get their table partners to guess which landform was their favorite.

Next time you are out and about with your children, try to identify the different landforms that you pass in your travels. Planning a vacation this summer? As you can see, we have several landforms that you can see at state or national parks or monuments like Crater Lake or Mt. St. Helen's. Check out their links to get ideas!




Friday, December 12, 2014

Erosion models

In fourth grade, students are currently working on:

4-ESS2-1.Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Examples of variables to test include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water and volume of water flow

Students used wallpaper troughs and sand to create model riverbeds. These allowed students to measure the rates of erosion by water. The models were given a consistent slope on one side and the variable that was changed was the amount of time water was allowed to flow through the riverbed. 


The first step was to create a riverbed in the sand.



A toothpick was placed on the edge of the meander of the river.




Water was poured through the riverbed with a modified watering can to regulate the flow. 




This picture shows the amount of sand that eroded as a result of the water flow. The toothpick stayed in place to represent where the meander had been.




 Students used a centimeter ruler to measure how much of the sediment had eroded from the meander. 




The erosion data was recorded in tables for later use: sharing results among groups, graphing of data and engineering mitigation methods.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Erosion experts visit 4th grade

Recently, fourth graders had a visit from Ely and Stacey from Clean Water Services. This visit built on a previous class visit and field visit to Fern Hill wetlands in our ongoing study of erosion.

Students used a Tualitin watershed model table. Ely explained it as a "3D map" to help test theories about erosion. The model allowed the students to simulate what happens when rain or other types of precipitation mix with contaminants on the ground.

The students then tested mitigation strategies such as grasses, sedges and rushes. They modelled these with felt and other materials like foam to see if erosion and runoff could be better controlled.



The second part of the visit was an erosion slide show which depicted real-life examples of the effects of erosion.

What is erosion?
The movement of rocks and soil by: 
Wind-happens in dry areas with little vegetation, farm fields and deserts
wind moves sediment around, changes the forms of rocks


Ice-snow settles and never melts away, glaciers are formed over many years and as they slowly melt they slide over land and break up rock
glaciers also form valleys

Water-river is cutting through ground as it flows. The reason for a muddy river is soil, sediment being moved by erosion

Waves- over time waves wear away rock and move sediment of landforms along the coast

Gravity-heavy weight, cliffs, slopes, avalanches, landslides, steep slopes cause land to erode









Monday, September 29, 2014

Fourth grade field visit to Fern Hill wetlands and Clean Water Services Plant

On Friday afternoon, Joseph Gale fourth graders had a field visit to Fern Hill wetlands. This was the second step in the ongoing erosion unit partnering with Clean Water Services. The unit will consist of field visits, visits to the classrooms by experts as well as experiments with erosion models.

The first part of the orientation to the site was a tour of the Water Treatment Facility. Dave, a technician at the plant, led the tour.

The first part of the tour was the screen room; this is where large pollutants are removed from the incoming sewer water.
1) Screening-a machine rotates with a screen that separates all the solids that are removed from the water and taken to the dump.




Next was the water is pumped through large pipes to the primary treatment area or "vortex" as it is sometimes called.
2) Primary Treatment-Water is stirred in a big tank and gravity does the work. Anything that is less dense than water, like dirt, sinks and all things less dense than water, like oil, floats. Rotating arms on the top and bottom of the tank remove the contaminants are moved to digesters.






Third was a climb up the top of the platforms for a look into the secondary or "aeration" tanks. The plant was "offline" during our visit, so the tanks were not full or operating.
3) Secondary & Tertiary Treatment-Microorganisms help to clean the water by consuming dissolved organic substances, especially ammonia (NH4), through aerobic respiration and produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). As they do this, they convert the ammonia into nitrates (NO3-) through nitrification, which are then taken up in the microorganism during growth and then they settle out as a flock. During secondary treatment, a similar process is used to remove phosphates (tertiary: PO43-) and additional nitrates that are dissolved in the water.


The last part of the tour allowed a look at the large round storage basins that you see as you enter the site. These are where the filtered water is stored before entering the UV treatment area and finally is pumped into the storage ponds (currently under re-construction) and eventually ends up in the Tualitin River (and ultimately at our water taps).


PART TWO was a tour of Fern Hill Wetlands, a natural area created to filter, clean and store rain water as well as the filtered water from the treatment facility.
Walking along the path that runs along the storage ponds.
The storage ponds (under re-construction.) The work aims to create a more diverse habitat for a variety of native species.
A dry riverbed. These riverbeds were created to slow down and filter water coming from the treatment plant to the storage ponds.

A human made wetland "test" area. This area, just adjacent to the treatment facility was created to filter and clean rainwater as it enters the ground to become groundwater. The area was planted with specific plants species that are water-loving. Snags are the term for the dead trees that stand in the middle of the wetland. These provide shelter and habitats for birds of the area.

This marsh sits at the back of the Fern Hill area and handles the cleaning and filtering of large amounts of rainwater and runoff from nearby parking lots. It also provides habitat for plant and animal species. While there, we observed a Great Blue Heron perched on the far bank to our left.









Second Graders and Butterflies

The second grade classes have been studying the migration of Monarch butterflies. As part of the unit, the classes did several activities to help them visualize what a 3,000 mile migration might be like. The first activity took place in the gym, where the students walked for one mile, making about 15 laps around. The whole time, students held up a representation of a butterfly in the form of a construction paper cut out.

After this activity, students made their way back to their classrooms where they built three thousand with unit blocks. Mrs. Lecarno states: "It was fun. I started counting with ones and nobody stopped me for a while. Then, one girl said, ' This is going to take forever! Let's count by hundreds. "

If you look very closely in the photo, the green unit in the lower left represents the portion they walked in the gym.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

4th Grade River Rangers to the Rescue!

Ely O'Connor, with Clean Water Services’ Education & Outreach, visited today as the first step in a yearlong partnership between Joseph Gale and Clean Water Services to educate students about the NextGeneration Science Standard (NGSS) that addresses erosion:

4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.

*The NGSS standards were adopted by the state of Oregon as the state science standards last spring.

This partnership has been established through the work of the Portland Metro STEM Partnership (PMSP), of which Joe Gale is one of their seven STEM Transformational schools and Clean Water Services is one of their industry partners. PSMP wrote a MetroNature in Your Neighborhoods grant last spring to support this project which entails four classroom visits to Joe Gale and four field visits to Fern Hill Wetlands and a field visit to Forest Grove’s wastewater treatment plant.

Ely gave her River Rangers presentation to studetns to help them realize how precious clean water is and what we can do to keep it clean and conserve it. Here are the questions she posed to the 4th graders to help them in their quest to become River Rangers.

#1 What do we use clean water for? 
·      Going to the bathroom! We use more water every day to flush the toilet than any other use of clean water. Newer toilets use about 2 gal/flush where as older models use up to 5 gal/flush.
·      Drinking! We should be consuming eight 8 oz glasses of water each day. Do the math, that's 64 oz/person/day.

#2 What percent of water in the world is "clean" water that we need to use for drinking and going to the bathroom? 
·      1%-if we had 100 buckets of water, only 1 of those buckets would be clean, fresh water!!! Most of our water on Earth is salt water (97%) and is not useable. 
·      This 1% is for everyone on the planet, all 7 billion!!! The more water we save through conservation the more that is available for everyone else on Earth.

#3 Why don't we run out of water if there is only 1%? 
Water gets recycled through the Water Cycle, if it couldn't be recycled we would run out pretty quickly. Here were some of the steps in the cycle that students were able to tell her about:
·      Evaporation-water turning from a liquid to a gas and rising up into the atmosphere.
·      Condensation-water cooling down and turning into a liquid in tiny droplets in the atmosphere.
·      Precipitation-large droplets of water falling from the sky and returning to the surface of Earth was rain, sleet, snow, etc.

#4 Our water is recycled through our watershed. What makes up our watershed?
·      Reservoirs/lakes "Hagg Lake" is the start of our watershed.
·      Rivers/streams/creeks "Gales Creek" feeds into our watershed.
·      Wetlands/swamps "Fern Hill Wetlands"
The lowest point in our watershed where all of our water collects is the Tualatin River. The closest place in the river to us at Joseph Gale is behind Fern Hill Wetlands. The Tualatin flows into the Willamette, which flows into the Columbia, which flows to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria. 

#5 Where does water go that falls in our neighborhoods?
There are storm/rain drains to prevent flooding on the street because water will flow towards and down into them eventually flowing through large underground pipes that take it directly into Gales Creek and then to the Tualatin River. 

#6 What are some problems that are shown in the picture that create "dirty" water in the
river?
1)    Oil from cars 
2)    Agriculture (pig)
3)    Soap
4)    Trash
5)    Fertilizer
6)    Paint
All of these can release chemicals into the water, which are contaminants in our river and will harm wildlife, plant life or us!

#7 What are solutions to these problems?
Here are some of the solutions the students came up with:
1)    Collect oil and recycle at the curb by putting it in a gallon jug. Fix oil leaks in cars. 
2)    Move agriculture away from the river by building fencing and housing for them to live in.
3)    Park your car on grass when washing because the grass and soil will filter the soap out. Use a car wash that collects, cleans, and recycles the water.
4)    Put up signs near the banks of the river reminding people not to litter.
5)    Sweep up excess fertilizer that didn't land on the grass. 
6)    Paint on warm days so it dries quickly. Only use the amount of paint that is necessary. 

We have spent a lot of time talking about the outside drains but now let's turn our attention to our inside drains. 
#8 What are places where we make dirty water in our homes?
·      Sink
·      Bath/Shower
·      Toilet
·      Washing Machine

All of that wastewater leaves your home through the pipes and comes to the treatment plant where water is taken through the following steps to clean it and release it back into the Tualatin River.
1) Screening-a machine rotates with a screen that separates all the solids that are removed from the water and taken to the dump.
2) Primary Treatment-Water is stirred in a big tank and gravity does the work. Anything that is less dense than water, like dirt, sinks and all things less dense than water, like oil, floats. Rotating arms on the top and bottom of the tank remove the contaminants are moved to digesters.
3) Secondary & Tertiary Treatment-Microorganisms help to clean the water by consuming dissolved organic substances, especially ammonia (NH4), through aerobic respiration and produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). As they do this, they convert the ammonia into nitrates (NO3-) through nitrification, which are then taken up in the microorganism during growth and then they settle out as a flock. During secondary treatment, a similar process is used to remove phosphates (tertiary: PO43-) and additional nitrates that are dissolved in the water.
**More than 98% of our nation’s water treatment ends after secondary treatment. Since the Tualatin River is slow moving and thus is sensitive to algae blooms, Clean Water Services is required to do tertiary treatment in order to make sure that contaminants are reduced down to levels that their permits require.
4) Filter-through gravel, sand, and charcoal to remove any last impurities and improve the smell
Insert pics of steps and water samples

Students looked at water samples at the various stages before treatment and after each stage. They then compared the water released from the treatment plant and the river water. Which one looks cleaner?

It is more difficult to tell in this picture but all students pointed to treatment plant sample. The river water definitely had a yellow tinge to it compared to the clean wastewater. 

#9 Why is the river water dirtier than the treatment plant water?
The storm water that flows directly to the river contains all the contaminants that we talked about in question #6 but does not undergo treatment like the wastewater.

Be a Tualatin River Ranger! Use your activity guide and stickers at home to mark substances that we need to be really careful with to make sure they don’t end up in the storm drains to make our river water dirty.