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Upper El (Mr. D): Research, Tides, and Variety!

Over the last week, and during this very short week, we made a lot of progress on our stories, our Mission Specialist Project, explored gravity's effect on Earth, spent some time in Maker Space, and introduced our engineering project.

We have two running projects in the afternoon: our stories and our mission research. Students will have the first draft of their stories and the research portion of their Mission Specialist Project due mid-week when we return from break.

For our Mission research, students have a great resource they are using from a NASA website, but this doesn't have to be the only resource they use. We're discovering what research is all about: coming up against information we can't find and how to pivot, and allowing our curiosity and need to understand to help steer the research.

Some of the things these missions are studying can be things students have never heard of, like the Earth's Magnetic Tail. What is that? Let me tell you the basics, and now go get more details! As I tell students, I'm here to help everyone understand those terms we come across that we've never heard or just never understood. But, when we're doing a research project, we still want to find sources to corroborate the information. Also, learning the same thing from multiple sources can add extra clarity.

On top of these two projects, we have put together our Variety Show act and started practicing! It's going to be fun! We had three groups to help create a mini-musical. I created the story outline in the interest of time, but then our writing group developed our script around certain songs. Our acting group helped divvy up the roles and decide on costumes. Finally, our set and prop group created a list of all the things we need to make to pull this off! We have costumes to make, and props to build, but we have a script and music to practice with while we get the rest ready. I can't wait for you all to see it!

Our final lesson before the break was about noticing how gravity plays a role in shaping our Earth and supporting life. What falls to the ground? That was our starting question. Everything, yes, but what does so naturally in nature? Fruit, trees, rain, etc. From there, we thought about how those falling objects could be important to shaping our planet and supporting life.

Fruit falling to the ground can feed other life, and when the fruit rots or trees fall, decomposers are fed as well and return nutrients to the soil. The water cycle needs gravity to pull the condensed water back down to the ground. Rivers run by the pull of gravity. Rain, rivers, waterfalls, and so on cause erosion and shape our world.

Then, we talked about the tides and waves and how the Moon's gravitational force plays its role in the tides. Students left with an understanding of gravity's major role in so many aspects of life on our planet. This is something I don't think we often think about.

To leave off before the break, I introduced what will be a fun engineering and art project to end our unit on gravity. We're going to build pendulums and make pendulum art, or gravity art! We'll reinforce what we learned about potential and kinetic energy, about gravity's pull, and have some fun making swirling art!

I hope everyone has a great break!

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