Sunday, October 11, 2015

Earth's Limited Resources: Studying Rocks, Soil, and Natural Resources

As the third graders in room 177 delved into our first Interdisciplinary Unit, Interdependence,  for the 2015-16 school year, we kicked off a study of Earth's resources.  Students' favorite time of the day is ALWAYS our IU time because that is frequently known as the time when they get to do "fun stuff".  What the students seldom realize is that it is through these types of experiences that they receive the most beneficial learning gains.

Before digging into Earth's resources, we dipped back into some second grade topics to review key concepts that play a vital role in the soundness and integrity of Earth's resources.  Third graders in room 177 revisited the topics of weathering, erosion, and deposition.  By watching Scholastic Study Jams Weathering and Erosion, we reviewed that weathering is the breaking down or dissolving of rocks and minerals on Earths surface. Water, ice, acids, salt, plants, animals, and changes in temperature are all agents of weathering. Once the rock has been broken down, a process called erosion transports the bits of rock and minerals away.  Deposition is the process in which sediments, soil and rocks are added to a landform or land mass. Wind, ice, and water, as well as sediment flowing via gravity, transport previously eroded sediment, which, is deposited, building up layers of sediment.

Students then looked at a slide show of several pictures of real world examples of weathering and erosion.  They were asked to examine each sample and determine which process was occurring.  Next, students were given the task of sorting images portraying weathering, erosion, and deposition that were printed on paper, and then they organized them in their interactive notebooks.

Next, students learned about Rocks and their properties.  After learning that the type of rocks include Igneous, Sedementary, and Metamorphic, students learned that different types of rocks have measurable and observable characteristics including size and shape of the particles or grains (if present) within the rock, texture and color. Students then worked in P.R.I.D.E. groups to sort and classify rocks in various ways by their properties.

Serenity sorted pyrite because of its metallic luster.

Maliky, Zy'Aire, Ruby, and Jaylyn sort and compare rocks and minerals
as they record classification data on their lab sheets.

After completing our investigation of rocks, students then moved on to observations of soil.  Soil, similarly to rocks, has properties.  The properties of soil that we discussed were the texture, color, and particle size.  We noted that the color of the soil was different depending on what the soil components were.  To help students understand better that soil has different colors, the students completed a soil study called Soil Across America in which they observed different soil samples from approximately 17 states.  Students were able to use their senses to make observations about color, texture and particle size on a recording sheet as they compared soil samples.

Annecia observes and records data for a sample from North Carolina.

Ra'Jhay, Faith and the rest of their team collaborate while studying samples
from Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Upon completion of this investigation, students wrote a compare contrast essay to describe two interesting samples they observed.  To do this they used important vocabulary words relating to our study of soil and its characteristics.

Finally, students learned about the Earth's natural resources.  Natural resources of the Earth include soil, rocks, plants, animals, water.  Some resources help to provide us with renewable and non-renewable energy.  Renewable energy is an energy resource, such as wind, water or solar energy, that is replenished within a short amount of time by natural processes. Nonrenewable energy is an energy resource, such as coal or oil, that is a finite energy source that cannot be replenished in a short amount of time.  Students also learned that fossils  fuels, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, are formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. Coal is one of the main energy sources that is non-renewable. In order for our country to get coal that is used for energy, coal must be mined for. However, mining for coal can damage the Earth on which we live.

 Students explored the effects of mining for coal on landsites by using two different types of chocolate chip cookies.  One cookie, an original Chips Ahoy, represented a rocky landsite.  The other, a Chewy Chips Ahoy, represented a soil landsite.  Students were asked to predict which landsite would experience the most damage while mining for coal (chocolate chips).  Some students predicted the rocky landsite while others predicted the soil landsite.  Students were given time to mine for the coal.  During this mining, students identified that the process occurring to their landsites was weathering since rock or soil was being broken away from its surface through the effects of man.  

Zy'Aire uses a toothpick to mine for coal (chocolate chips) on two different
landsite as we explore the processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition
while obtaining fossil fuels.

Next, water was added to each student's landsite samples to simulate the effect of rain on landsites.  Once water was added, small particles of each landsite began to move away from the landsite demonstrating erosion.  Finally, the moving particles came to a new resting spot, deposition,  as the water soaked into the paper plate and the movement ceased.

After water (rain) was added to the landsites, students observed the processes
of erosion and deposition.

Once the experiment was completed,  students finalized their lab sheets by graphing how many pieces of coal were collected from each landsite.  Students also completed their conclusion statement regarding which landsite received the most damage during mining, proving or disproving their hypothesis.

Brandazia works to complete her graph and conclusion statement.

We closed this section of our IU by integrating art into our study.  Students learned about artist Yaacov Agam who is know for optical and kinetic art.  One particular type of art he is know for is called an Agamograph.  You can read about it below.

Students created their own natural resource Agamograph's by using marker, colored pencils, or crayons as their media.  Following a code, they colored in their art.  

Jaylyn colors her Agamagraph.

Next, pages were cut out and assembled.  Then the back and forth folding took place.

A.J. folds his Agamagraph.

Then, students wrote a short paragraph about why conserving and saving Earth's natural resources is important.  Finally, the Amagraph and the student's writings were mounted and displayed on our classroom door and in our room.  Here are some finished samples.

Jaylyn's finished product, view from the left.
Jaylyn's finished product, view from the right.

Au'Bren's finished product, view from the left.
Au'Bren's finished product, view from the right.
Classroom Door:  Agamagraph views from the front.

Students really learned a lot through their exploration of Earth's rocks, soil and natural resources.  I am sure that you can see why the Interdisciplinary Unit time of our day has fast become their favorite part of our day!  Now we are on to learning more about the Earth as we explore her landforms, map skills, more on resources, and communities.  Stay tuned for more from room 177.

1 comment:

  1. So very cool! Keep up the great work 3rd graders it's wonderful to see you all working so hard and having a wonderful fun time learning so much!