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Social Studies/Science: Rock Types and Watershed Review

This was an experiment geared at giving 4th grade students a clear understanding of rock types, mineral resources in Virginia, and watersheds. Watersheds are a difficult concept to understand for Title I 4th graders who have generally not traveled, and experienced rivers and streams and bays and the oceans. Because they do not have a lot of prior experiences, and are younger, I decided to take a more hands-on approach. The concept of a watershed is difficult for students to grasp, so by demonstrating a watershed in a way that they can see up close and personal, they can actually see what one is. This particular group of students, some of whom are special education inclusion, is very visual and kinesthetic. They do not do well sitting in their desks and writing and do much better getting up and moving and doing. So they get to create their own rocks and their own watersheds, which helps keep them focused and engaged and lets them experience the content, not just read and study it. This project is also good because the students think of science experiments at this age as something like from a Pinky and the Brain cartoon: a bunch of colored liquids and beakers and explosions. It is good for them to realize that they can do a science experiment now, at their age. They are introduced to the concept of repeated trials, and how that can help inform their next predictions, as well as the process of making a prediction (or hypothesis) and then testing it and drawing a conclusion based on the evidence and their observations. While they will not learn about this kind of experimental design for a few more years, they now have an understanding of the practice. See also: Appendix A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5, A-7, A-8, A-9, A-10

Social Studies/Science: Rock Types and Watershed Review


SOL: Science 4.1 The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations. Science 4.9 The student will investigate and understand important natural resources on Earth and in Virginia. VBO: SCI 4.0.1 Make distinctions among observations, conclusions, inferences, and predictions. SCI 4.0.12 Construct models to clarify explanations, demonstrate relationships, and solve needs. SCI 4.4.1 Create and interpret a model of a watershed. ELA 4.6.8 Draw conclusions and make inferences, using textual information as support. Materials: Tin foil pans or cookie sheets Spray bottles Freezer paper Candy that can be squished and is a variety of colors (colored tootsie rolls, caramels, etc.) Expo, permanent, or water-based (best option) markers Procedure: Have students clear their desks of everything accept a sheet of paper and pencil. Divide students into groups of two or three at most. Hand each student two pieces of candy (unwrapped) that are different colors. Review what sedimentary rock is (layers crushed by pressure) Have students make sedimentary rock using the candy and display their examples to their groups and the class (briefly). Discuss what kinds of sedimentary rock that is found in Virginia (example: limestone) Now review what metamorphic rock is.

Have students use pressure to combine the layers of candy into a metamorphic rock and again have them briefly display. Discuss what sorts of metamorphic rocks found in Virginia (example: granite) Have students throw their rocks away or put them to the side. Hand out one piece of freezer paper, one spray bottle, and one tin/tray to each group. Instruct students to ball up their freezer paper, and then set it out in their tray so it looks like a topographical map (model this). Explain to students that they will be demonstrating what a watershed is. Review watersheds and how it means the land that has water flowing through, under, or around it. Discuss how their papers are going to be the land and they will introduce rain with their spray bottles. Discuss where water might flow on mountains and valleys. Then tell students to use their marker, not touching or pressing on the paper, gently mark where they think the water is going to flow or end up. (Model this) Have students write trial 1 on their paper and mark down what they think will happen. Explain that they will need to observe what happens when rain is introduced and record their observations when the rain is over. Instruct students on how to properly spray their watersheds so that it works similar to rain. Have students take turns spraying their watersheds for an equal amount of time. Have students write what they observed happened with the water under Trial 1. Repeat this test 1 or 2 more times, depending on time. Discuss how this demonstrates what a watershed is and discuss how and why their predictions got better (as they should) each trial.

Assessment: Collect the record sheets and check for understanding based on what students predicted and what they observed. Also check orally for understanding during the experimental process.