January Adventures in 4th Grade

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Fourth graders have been presented with some really interesting math and science challenges, projects and labs this month! Right off the bat after Winter break, they were challenged to build a freestanding tower using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 1 large marshmallow, scissors and a yard stick. Later during the month, they were tasked with designing a car launcher. In groups, they were given: one cup, one toy car, one spoon, six Popsicle sticks, two rubber bands, two feet of tape and two feet of string. They didn’t have to use all of the materials, but they needed to use at least two. It’s so much fun to watch their creative brains at work as they collaborate with their classmates during these STEM challenges.

Another one of the students’ favorite activities this month was a milk/food coloring activity. We each poured whole milk onto a paper plate. Then we dropped several different colors of food coloring onto the milk. From there, we dipped a cue tip into Dawn dish soap and touched the soapy tip into the food coloring/milk. Students’ faces lit up as the food coloring seemed to dance across the plate. We talked about how the soap on the cue tip bonds to the fat and protein molecules in milk and causes the food coloring to move around as the milk also moves on the plate. Another 4th grade favorite was a gummy bear lab in which we soaked gummy bears in different solutions (water, salt water, water with baking soda and vinegar) overnight and made predictions on what would happen to the gummy bears. Students were shocked at how much the gummy bears soaked in water grew. We discussed the “why” behind the results, like how there was more water outside of the bear than inside of it, so water moved into the bear. On the contrary, the gummy bear soaked in vinegar was almost dissolved the next day. The vinegar broke down the gelatin and that was why the gummies fell apart so easily.

Fourth graders worked this month on a Stop Motion Rock Cycle Project. Using different mediums (candy, legos, clay) they worked with others to create a stop motion film that illustrated the rock cycle. After creating storyboards that demonstrated with sketches each step of their story and gathering their materials, they filmed using the iMotion app on our ipads.  In math, students worked on an enrichment project where they acted as travel agents. Their supervisor at the travel agency wanted to offer special vacation packages for a family of four. They were tasked with designing several different 7-day vacation packages to a state park in Texas, staying within a certain budget. This included planning the type of transportation, description of entertainment and details on lodging.

Students also continued to create their Native American Board Games this month. In groups they selected a Texas Tribe to focus on and were asked to design a board game that describes the food, tools, weapons, children, customs and religious beliefs, traditions and shelter of their chosen tribe. Just last week, our 2nd grade buddies visited our classroom and everyone got to play the games together. They were a hit! We will continue our study of the Age of Exploration, specifically focused on the French and Spanish in Texas.

We also finished the very tragic but powerful novel Bridge to Terabithia this month as well as the comedic book The Whipping Boy. Students are really enjoying reading Blood on the River which connects to our study of the relationships between Native Americans and European explorers.

As always, you can follow our class adventures on Instagram by following ms.burkly.


Ms. Burkly