Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Soil Study: Investigations and Experiments

Right on! 
Handing out a worksheet might be easier, but where's the fun in that for the kids or the teacher? 

I am super excited that the state of Virginia has decided to do away with the SOL Social Studies and Science tests for third grade.  No longer will we need to feel the pressure to spend time on science testing preparations.  Our children are curious and motivated young scientists; we stifle that yearning for learning when our teaching is limited to the focus of one correct answer and the mastering of  only specific content knowledge.  I'm excited to devote even more time to inquiry based activities that incorporate questioning and active engagement. 

Knowing that I will have more time to spend on investigations next year has motivated me to get busy putting my science teaching files in order. So,  I am super excited to report that I have finally been able to organize my soil lessons and investigations into one bundled packet. Many of my loyal friends and followers have requested these files over the years and have waited patiently for them! Sorry it took so long!

I love teaching this unit! We usually cover this in the spring which seems appropriate since it is the time of the year we are planting and things are coming back to life. I can also see how this would make sense in the early fall when we are harvesting.  The big idea of this unit is that soil is an important natural resource that should be conserved and protected. 

I added some new experiments in this bundle. Here is a snapshot of one of the additional investigations.
I want my kids to understand how temperature changes can lead to weathering of rocks which then leads to the formation of soil.  For this one we consider what happens to water when it freezes. Students are given styrofoam cups with lids.  We fill up the cup completely with water and freeze it over night.  The next day we pull our cups out of the freezer and check for physical changes.  Here is what they will find:

This is a neat way for students to see how water expands and how it can cause changes in rock. 
I like using reporting sheets when conducting science experiments.  It leads students through the scientific process and gives them a place to record observations and conclusions.  

If you are interested in the printables that go with this unit, you can head here!

I will be back to highlight the erosion investigation next.  
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