August 19, 2010

Cool Weather Science

We wrapped up a cool weather unityesterday and we had a blast with activities that explore water cycle concepts.  Here's a look back at a few of our favorite activities that explore the wacky world of weather and water.

We were asked, by our science book, to predict whether snowflakes and sleet would float or fall and then devise a test to find out if we were right.  So we made a paper snowflake and then wadded a piece of paper up to be our sleet.  Then I took the screen out of the window and allowed Hannah Jane to drop them both out of the second floor window while the boys and I stood in the garden and recorded what happened.

Though the kids weren't asked to look any deeper into the float/fall scenario, Hannah Jane immediately began to explain to Hunter that, "Even though you can't see gas, it's out there.  Oh yes it is!  And it keeps the flat snowflake from rushing down.  You know?  Because the sleet is more...crumpled...yeah, it hits less of those gas particles and they don't try to stop it as much as they do the snow flake because it's less...crumpled...and so it hits more gas on the way down."  Really gotta love that explanation of wind resistance!

Then, we did an activity to show the kids what evaporation means.  I thought this was awesome!  We took paintbrushes and water out on the deck where it was sunny and water painted on the wood.  Then we took pictures as we watched the painting disappear and made our own time lapse of evaporation.  We decided on an S and and H cubed to represent Skyla and her 3 H kids!  Cute!  Here's our time lapse.

I asked the kids if things can just disappear.  They agreed that nothing just disappears, but that their paintings sure seemed to.  Maybe it was faded by the sun like the pair of brown pants that Hunter left outside that now have a sort of tie dye quality about them.  So we talked about evaporation and how the water that we painted on the deck it breaking up and heading up to the clouds.  That's evaporation!  Hunter decided to paint enough to make a rain cloud form over the deck and then burst open so we could have our own little rain party.  In his mind this shouldn't be too hard to do and he spent a good 30 minutes working on it.  I didn't interrupt because it bought Hannah Jane some uninterrupted instruction time.  Plus, isn't that kind of what being a scientist is all about?  Trying it and seeing what happens?  Finally he got his cloud and we all danced in the rain.  Wait.  No.  No he didn't!  But I had ya going for a second didn't I?  Haha!

We went in and talked about the different kinds of clouds and made a little craft to help us keep them all straight.  I folded a blue piece of scrap book paper into 4ths and drew a little ground cover at the bottom of each section and proceeded to destroy cotton balls and glue their sad remains on the paper to look like each of the cloud types.

That about sums it up!  Now we're on to animal classification, which so far has caused Hannah Jane to ask, "Did they know how old I was when they sent this lesson?  Because I'm pretty sure I knew this when I was born."  Perhaps we'll rush through this unit and get on to bigger and better concepts!

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