Students in the first and second grades at Joseph Gale Elementary became "scientists" and "engineers" for the first time as Terra Cavolo, Nicole Christopherson, Brenda LeCarno, and Jennifer Williams took their first leap into teaching the Next Generation Science Standards. Erosion was the theme in this first unit of study on earth science to address the second grade standard, "Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land."
In the first stage of instruction the teachers started by giving the preassessment below to students on what mountains were made of:
They anticipated and planned that their students would likely respond with soil/dirt and ice so they followed up with a series of demonstrations to show what would happen if mountains were made of these materials. When they assessed their students again after the demonstrations they realized that there was still quite a bit of confusion between rock and soil and realized they would need to do some additional teaching on the differences between them before students would be ready to design a solution to erosion.
In the second stage of instruction, students watched videos, read books, and looked at pictures of erosion and prevention methods to start to build the vocabulary they would need to communicate why erosion was a problem and how they would engineer a solution to that problem. Here are some of the resources that were used in this process:
Here are a couple you could use at home:
Magic School Bus Rocks & Rolls Activity Doing home activities with your children reinforces what they have learned in class and will lead to deeper understanding of the content and longer retention.
List of Elementary Books on Erosion Head to the library to see if these books or others are available. Reading non-fiction text is one of the biggest changes in the Common Core Standards. Science is a great place to get students hooked on non-fiction reading!
The unit culminated with an inquiry investigation that had different groups investigating the various mitigation methods: straw over the surface, straw rolls, sand bags, tiling, and lego retaining walls. Students tested the effectiveness of each solution through measuring the turbidity of the water and shared the results with their classmates. Last, students got the opportunity to individually engineer their own solution to erosion in milk jugs by choosing one of the methods they investigated previously or to select growing grass, which was demonstrated to them in during the inquiry lab. Once they decided on a solution they had to draw out a plan to stop erosion. They again tested the effectiveness of their solution and shared their results with their classmates. Here are some pictures of what students designed and built:
Results of testing final project with water collected and measured against turbidity scale.
A plan of how to stop erosion and the final built product.
Now that this unit is complete, here are some questions you children should be able to answer:
What is erosion?
What causes erosion?
Can you show me a picture of erosion or point out an example while we are driving?
Is erosion good or bad?
Does erosion happen quickly or slow?
What are the different kinds of erosion?
How do we stop erosion from happening?
What is turbidity?
Why do we use it to measure erosion?
What method did your group investigate in the lab?
Did this method work well?
What method did you decided to use in your final project? Why?
What would you change about your project if you could do it again?
How might this change increase or decrease the turbidity of your collected water?