Tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanos - oh my. These forces can quickly and violently change the topography of the Earth. This week we worked with fourth graders to explore these forces in a hands-on way. We made baking soda volcanoes, built card houses that could withstand various types of seismic activity, and used sand and water trays to mimic the effects of tsunami waves. It was a great day of science in the garden.
Spring is for baby animals, and Kindergarteners around Long Beach are hatching adorable baby chickens in their classrooms. Using special incubators, we guide students through the 21-day development cycle of a chicken. Then, we gather around and watch them persistently peck their way out of their shells and into the world. It’s a lesson in patience, the cycles of nature, and the joy of seeing something you’ve cared for take its first steps. We’re thankful to be helping so many students have a farm-like experience right in their classroom.
“We are more alike my friends than we are unalike” – Maya Angelou
Middle school is a time of transition. You could argue one of the greatest quests during these adolescent years is finding your rhythm - your pace and cadence and comfort level with your own unique beat. This year we are working with students from Intellectual Virtues Academy on a Schoolyard Habitat Project. We are slowly converting 3,000sf of non-native bushes into a dynamic local habitat for pollinators, birds, and other critters. Along the way, we are exploring this concept of rhythm – finding it in your work, your speech, and your group dynamics. In the first lesson, we worked on removing old growth juniper – a punishing task requiring grit and teamwork. While working, we used different playlists to see if certain musical rhythms helped us find our cadence and flow. It’s been a lot of fun, and many students seem drawn to the powerful spoken word rhythms of rap music. We are hoping to use these nature-focused experiences to write some poetry of our own.
Today some lucky first graders got to pay it forward, harvesting dried pea seeds from their Fall planting for next year’s class. The school calendar lends itself nicely to saving seeds like snap peas, which are planted in the Fall, nibbled through the Winter, and set their seeds in early Spring. As part of our lesson, we did some careful observing to predict and then quantify how many peas were in each pea pod. Students made bar graphs depicting their results and brainstormed a process for determining which number of peas occurred most often in the class (i.e., the mode.) After setting aside seeds for next year’s first graders, students made their own pea seed packets to take home and enjoy next Fall. We ended the lesson with a wonderful nature walk looking and listening for signs of Spring.