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Montessori Outdoor Science School 2019 (MOSS) Day Five May 24, 2019

Research presentations

Well, today the rain that was forecast for the whole week finally came! We only ventured out to complete our weather forecast. And our young scientists predicted the weather accurately.

“Well, the sky is covered by a heavy blanket of grey cloud – nimbostratus clouds – that means continuous rain.”

“And there is almost no wind, so that means the rain is here to stay. There is no wind to blow the clouds away.”

That made it easier to relocate today’s planned activities to our classrooms. We spent some time looking at maps, and finding the places we had visited during the week. We also caught up on recording the birds we had noticed during the week. We had seen fourteen of the eighteen birds in our birding books, and the children could remember where and when we had spotted the birds.

“We saw the quail crossing the road yesterday on our walk to the park.”

“The hawk was on the pole by the bridge.”

“The violet-green swallows were on the island in the pond and under the bridge.”

As well as the birds in our birding book, we also saw crows, a wood duck and a heron.

We then divided into our groups to continue working on our research projects. We were mostly working on completing our tri-fold displays for our presentations scheduled for 1:00PM. There was a whole lot of writing, drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing and decorating going on. We also practiced verbally presenting the material.

We were so happy to have so many families show up to join us for our indoor picnic, followed by the presentations. We had parents and grand-parents, and siblings, so we had a full house! As teachers, we are so thankful for the awesome support we receive from our families.

So, what were the questions our students worked at answering using the scientific method?

  • Are there fish in the ponds at Sunnyside Park. We found virtually no macro-invertebrates in the pond, so if there were fish in the pond, what did they eat?
  • How many food webs can we observe at Sunnyside Park?
  • Are there more animals at the big pond or the small pond at Sunnyside Park?
  • How are bugs attracted to people?

Our students used many tools to answer their questions – fishing nets, binoculars, magnifying glasses, timers, clipboards, paper and pencils to record data. Some of them presented their data in tables or pie charts. Some of them used math skills, such as using addition and division to find an average. Each group successfully used science vocabulary such as hypothesis, prediction, materials, method, observations, data, results, and conclusion. I am so tickled to hear our students use words such as ‘prediction’ or ‘hypothesis’ in their daily conversations! As our presentations were put together under a time crunch, we absolutely accepted developmental spelling. As a teacher, I much prefer that a six to seven year old is unafraid to sound out hypothesis than all words are correctly spelled! ‘Hipothesis’ is a very close approximation to the correct spelling, as is ‘qesten’. (Note to self – give lesson on ‘u’ after ‘q’ in most English spelling of words beginning with q. Give lesson on ‘ion’ spellings. This is how Montessori teachers work.)

So what were their conclusions?

  • There are fish in the pond. We used oats as bait and almost caught some fish in our nets. The fish are surviving partly on food thrown into the pond to feed the ducks. There may be few macro-invertebrates because the fish eat them.
  • The groups observed several food webs. They also noted that they saw more land food webs than aquatic food webs. This was due to poor water quality in the ponds and a lack of aquatic macro-invertebrates.
  • There were a lot more animals observed at the big pond. There is more water and more food at the big pond, and the island in the big pond provides a safe habitat for many animals.
  • Bugs use their senses, just like people do. Bugs are attracted by sight (color), smell (sweat, perfume, shampoo), taste (blood) and touch (body heat).

The kids really enjoyed using a microphone to make their presentations. The audience asked a lot of thought provoking questions. Everyone then spent time looking at the presentation boards. And so ended a very happy, positive and productive outdoor science week.

Thanks for following us throughout the week!

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Learning about the Brain October 19, 2018

Filed under: learning,mistakes,science,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 8:22 pm

Our school is so lucky to be in a small college town.  Many of our parents work at the university, and are involved in research.  This allows us to have very interesting presentations by experts to enrich the curriculum.

So far this year we have had a presentation by a Mom who worked at NASA on developing food for the space program.  Then we had a dad share his knowledge of native edible plants that tied in very nicely with a study of the fundamental needs of humans, the need for food, and hunter-gatherers!  Yesterday we also had a parent working on neuroscience present information about the brain.

We used a KWL model to structure the presentation, starting with what we already KNOW, followed by listing WHAT we wanted to know, and ending with what we LEARNED.  When we combined our knowledge, we already knew a lot!  Take a look at this list!44293509_10156723426386774_2539760139473256448_nWe wanted to learn:

  • What does our brain look like?  What color is it?
  • What makes us laugh?
  • How does our brain grow?
  • How do scientists learn about the brain?
  • How do we think and learn?

We soon found out what our brains looked like as our visiting scientist brought three brains for us to look at and contrast and compare.  We looked at a half of a brain of a human, a sheep and a rat.  Of course that led to lots of other questions about how she had the brains, and what happened to the person and animals that owned the brains.  Our scientist explained that the person and animals had died before the brains were removed, and in the case of the person, the person had said before dying that he or she wanted to donate his or her brain to science, for students to learn.

We noticed that the human brain was much larger and heavier than the other brains, and had a lot more curves and coils on the outside.  The rat brain was almost smooth on the outside.  We saw that all three brains had a brain stem.  We decided that the bigger size and the more curves were needed by humans because we store more information and memories in our brains than sheep or rats.

We looked at pictures showing details of the brain seen up close through a microscope.  We also tried out a few tests to show that when we practice a skill, our brains learn and grow better at the skill.  As an example, a student volunteer used a pencil to draw a route through a maze, and was timed from start to finish.  Each time the student repeated the activity, he got faster and more accurate.

By the end of the presentation, we had all learned so much, including the classroom teachers.  Our visiting scientist gave each student a gift of a brain-shaped eraser as a reminder that mistakes are important because the brain learns by trying new things, making mistakes and then correcting the mistake.  If we only do things we already know how to do, we might not make many mistakes, but we won’t learn new things and help our brains grow.

Our scientist ended by saying that there still needs to be much research done on the brain so we can learn and understand more.  She told us that one of our questions – “Why do people laugh, and how does the brain find things funny?” – is one of the questions researchers are working on, because right now we don’t know for sure!  Perhaps one of our students will find out through research!