Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fabulous Field Trip

We had the greatest field trip today to the Blue Hills Weather Observatory! Thanks so much to the awesome kids and parents who went with us!

 The fourth graders were split into two groups.  My group started at the bottom and hiked up the hill.  The kids were full of energy the whole way up.  Cries of "Wait for your poor, old teacher!" were frequent.  Along the way we stopped to admire the colorful leaves and beautiful views.  It was a perfect day for walking - brisk but plenty warm once we got moving.

Once we got to the top of the mountain, we spent a little while at the observation tower.  From the top, there are amazing views of Boston and the Harbor Islands.  It was particularly stunning with the leaves being so colorful.
You can see boston in the distance on the right.

Then we had some time to explore the bridge and area around the observation tower.  There were lots of fun things to look at (and climb on).  We spent some time looking for evidence of weather. We found rustling leaves and blowing branches.  We also found puddles from the rain last night.  There was also an incident of a hat blowing off a head and getting stuck in a tree!

After that we went over to the Weather Observatory.  We got to learn about how they used to use giant kites to fly weather equipment high up into the atmosphere.  They used those tools to find out about the temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity of the upper stratosphere.  Mr. McCasland was full of so much interesting information!

Next we got to do a Balloon Launch.  We wrote our names and date on some neon cards.  Then they were tied to balloons and we let them go.  It was so windy that they flew away faster than I've ever seen!  Be on the lookout for those neon cards!  If you find one while you're walking around or raking make sure you follow the directions on the back so we know where our balloons ended up.  We are really hoping to hear something about them this year.

After lunch, we got to go into the observatory.  We saw meteorologists at work; using barometers, thermometers, hygrometers, and anemometers.
 We had such an amazing trip!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Science: Weather

The first science topic we learn about in fourth grade is weather.  We start out by learning that weather is made up of three ingredients:
air + water + sun
Then we learn about each piece.  So far, our focus has been on air.  We have done two experiments to prove the properties of air.  

The first one we did proved that air takes up space. 

 First we crumpled up a paper towel and stuck it in the bottom of a small plastic cup.  We had to make sure it wouldn't fall out when we held it upside down.  Then we filled a larger cup part way with water.  

After that we made predictions about what we thought would happen if we turned the little cup upside down and pushed it straight down into the larger cup.  The students had many different hypotheses.  Some thought the paper towel would disintegrate.  Others thought it would just get really wet. A few thought it might stay dry.

Then we tested it out. 
We discovered that the air that is trapped in the cup pushes the water out of the way and keeps the paper towel dry.  That way we proved that air takes up space.

After that, we tested to find out if air has weight. We filled got two non-latex gloves (Because of allergies, our school is latex free.  Otherwise we would have used balloons.), two clips, and a balance scale.  
We squeezed all the air out of one glove and then clipped the opening closed.  The other glove we blew up like a balloon and then clipped that one so the air wouldn't get out.  When we made predictions this time, the kids almost unanimously thought that the glove filled with air would be lighter than the one with no air.  This is because of their experience with helium balloons.  
Everyone was pretty surprised that the air-filled glove was indeed heavier than the glove without air.  We then talked about how the air is pushing down on us all the time, but we are used to it.  Just like your clothes don't feel heavy when you wear them, or people with long hair don't feel like their head is being pulled down all the time, we get used to the weight and don't notice it.  

I know the kids are really looking forward to our field trip next week (Tuesday, Oct 16) to Blue Hills.  There we will get to see some of the weather measuring tools we've learned about being used by real meteorologists.  I just hope it doesn't snow like it did last year!  Even if it does, it's still a lovely walk.

Monday, October 8, 2012

So creative!

Mr. Mularski just found this video and I had to share it.  It is absolutely amazing how creative some people can be!  Just goes to show how people can show their strength by seeing a totally normal thing (like a piano) in a completely new way!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Open House!

So sorry that I haven't updated yet this week, but I have been busy getting ready to meet you all at Open House this evening!!

The classroom will be open for you to come visit from 6:00-7:00.  You are welcome any time during that hour.  Please make sure you bring your fourth grader along as they will be your tour guide.  I know they are eager to show you all the hard work we've been doing so far this year.  

The PTO will be hosting their annual Ice Cream Social from 6:30-7:30 in the cafeteria.  You have to come up to the classroom first to get your ticket, but then please go down and enjoy a free ice cream sundae to celebrate the new school year.

I am looking forward to seeing you all tonight!