15 December 2010

Finding out the answers to our questions

Today we realised good questions lead to more questions! A was keen to read out the sign in our classroom saying, "Questions are the door into inquiry." We were excited to discover our pots of water outside had frozen overnight. We were interested though that the freezer pots had started freezing straight away, but not so the ones outside. That led to the question:
At what point does water freeze?
C thought he knew (and he was right), but we needed scientific proof. We got searching using the books in our classroom. The students at first couldn't find the answers, so this was the perfect time to look at how we use the contents page and index. We discovered:

"The state of the water - solid, liquid or gas - depends on the temperature. If the temperature falls to 0 degrees Centigrade or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water turns to ice."

We would now like to know:
Why was the ice in the freezer a different colour to the ice outside? 
One looked white, the other was more see through.

We know that books are not the only place we can look. There are also experts we can ask and sites on the internet selected by an adult. Check out these links Kathy sent us after reading this blog last night! You'll be able to see where it's snowing in Switzerland and how strong the fall is.
Map 1
Map 2
She also researched and found this information that connects with our question above:

What makes rain turn to snow?

When the temperature dips below 32 degrees(Fahrenheit),or 0 degrees Celsius, the water droplets in the clouds freeze, those droplets turn into snow.

Here's an answer to the question:
At what temperature does rain turn into snow?
Rain does not turn into snow. If rain freezes, it becomes sleet (or hail, depending upon the conditions and processes). Snow is formed by the coalescence of ice crystals, which themselves are crystallized directly from water vapor. These ice crystals exist when the temperature is 32 degrees (F) or below at the level where they exist.

If it is raining and the surface temperature drops, the rain can become mixed with, and then replaced by snow, but the temperature at which this happens can vary somewhat, depending upon the relative conditions in the upper levels.

Snow can fall in the form of wet flakes when the surface temperature is as warm as 40 degrees (F) or so. Likewise, if an upper layer is warm enough, liquid rain can fall when the surface temperature is below 32 degrees (F). When it does, it generally freezes upon contact with the surface, creating a coating of ice (i.e., freezing rain).

14 December 2010

The Scientists at Work

We've been 'getting to know' water in our classroom through the construction of a water cycle. Miss Slavka begun this last week with our bi-lingual diagram.

After finishing the labelling today, we conducted an experiment to demonstrate complex ideas such as condensation and evaporation. The experiment gave us the opportunity to see liquid water change to water vapour (a gas), then back to liquid water. The scientists recorded what they observed and then wrote about why this happened. We've been using our scientific skills as well as our communication skills by learning how to write experiment instructions.

As we had made rain, one student asked if we could design an experiment to make snow, but we were lucky that it was being demonstrated just outside our window today!

At the request of C, we've also set up an experiment to see if we can find conditions to change liquid water into a solid (or ice). We've had pots outside our classroom today and interestingly the water has just started freezing at the end of the day. We were surprised how quickly the water froze in the freezer.  Students are coming up with inquiries and we are finding ways to answer our questions.

We've also got lots more questions! Can you find some answers at home too?
  • What happens if you pour water onto snow?
  • Why does water fall as snow, but not turn into ice? In the freezer it does turn into a block of ice.
  • When the snow is on the ground, and it is raining, why is the snow melting?
  • Why are the stairs outside icy but we don't see ice?
Remember to check out our netvibes page water unit page for interesting websites and information.

12 December 2010

While you are away don't stop thinking about water!

We've launched into our new unit, so while you are on holiday collect snap shots of water. Find pictures that show it in its different forms and how it is used. Maybe you'll find examples of water being stored, advertised or evidence of too much or not enough. In fact anything to do with water. Bring your pictures back with you on Monday 10th January 2011!


06 December 2010

Unit Questions

Our questions today were:

Why is it raining today and not snowing?
Why was it snowing in the night, but not now?

The students have lots of theories connected to why this is happening. We talked about the temperature, how we measure the temperature, what degrees Centigrade and Fahrenheit are, the water cycle....... The water has definitely changed form. What do you think?

We also took advantage of the snow to carry out a science investigation. We posed the question:
How long does it take for snow to melt?

We collected lots of pots of snow and then brainstormed all the different places we could put them to find out if different conditions effect the melting time. We made predictions and then timed the melting point of each pot. There was a definite buzz of excitement as we kept checking each pot!

We were surprised to see how efficient warm water is at melting snow, but also how H's hands also melt it rapidly. We were curious about the effect of wrapping paper around the pot to act as an insulator. We will be learning how to record our experiment tomorrow. 

02 December 2010

Inspired by the snow and our new unit!

Our new unit is from the Transdisciplinary Theme Sharing the Planet. The central idea we are exploring is:
Water is essential for life.

We were surrounded by water today, but in it's form as snow. We are starting to observe the different forms water can take.

Here's our 'instant' snow poetry after our return from Teuflibach today:

Snow, snow, snow.
The snow means winter is here.
The snow means it’s time to go sledding and skiing.
The snow reminds me of ‘Jingle Bells’.
The snow is bright white.
The snow makes it difficult to see where the path is.
The snow shines at night.
The snow is very cold when you touch it with bare hands.
The snow is freezing.
The snow is easy to slip on.
The snow looks like glitter and it is sparkling.
The snow is fluffy and light.
The snow looks like fluffy sugar.
The snow looks like ice cream.
The snow is good to slide on.
The snow is fun to play in.
You can make snowmen.
The snow is like a playground.
The snow is playful.
You slide, jump and slip.
When you walk you push the snow.
The snow taste scrumptious.
The snow makes me think of animals.
The snow makes me think of polar bears.
You feel like you are at the North Pole.
The snow makes me feel as if I’m solidified.
I see snowflakes falling out of the sky.
The snow makes the air feel fresh but raw.
The snow reflects light into the sky.
I see the snow topple down from the sky.
I see the snow tumble.
The snow makes me feel winter.
The snow makes me feel that my birthday is near.
The snow makes me feel Christmassy.
The snow makes me feel excited and happy.
The snow makes me feel blissful and full of joy.
The snow makes Santa come!
Snow, snow, snow.

By The Middle Primary Class

A view from our classroom

Learning Log for Mathematics

I would like you to think about how you actually use PLACE VALUE in your everyday life. When is it important to know and/or use the value of digits? Think of times when you need to read or understand a number or when you write numbers for a purpose.

Create a learning log to share your discoveries.

This log is all about using mathematics in the real world, as that's why we learn about it!


  • When I deliver a birthday invitation to my friend's house at number 65, I need to know how to read the house number so I don't post the invitation to number 66.
  • When I'm at the supermarket and I need to pay 30 chf for my shopping, I need to know the difference between 30 and 300 so I give the correct money. It's important to understand the position of the zeros.

Due date: Monday 13th December

image: richardwiseman.wordpress.com

01 December 2010

Investigating Place Value

Key Understanding 6: Place value helps us to think of the same number in different ways and this can be useful.

How can I use base 10 blocks to build numbers?
How can I split numbers into parts (partitioning)?
What happens to the tens place value when I count in tens?
What happens to the hundreds place value when I count in hundreds?
How can I use patterns to build numbers?
What is a prediction?
What is a pattern?

Today in our classroom we were exploring the different ways you can build numbers using the place value blocks. 

We found out 13 could be built using 13 ones or using 1 ten and 3 ones. 25 could be built using 25 ones, 1 ten and 15 ones or 2 tens and 5 ones. 

As we continued building numbers with blocks we wondered if there was a pattern or a system to the number of combinations you can make. We found ourselves using the word pattern and so we talked about what a pattern is.

Then that special moment happened when the students took charge and decided they wanted to investigate some more. You could feel the energy in the room as they worked out their own systems and rules to build numbers with the blocks. It was fascinating to watch the students work it out for themselves. They made predictions and tested their ideas. It got to the point where they didn't need the blocks as they had understood the system for building the number combinations.

We are thinking the number of ways always depends on how many tens there are in the number plus one other way. More to be discussed tomorrow.........