In early May, third and fourth graders were challenged to use a map to record plants growing in the Unquowa Garden. They identified over 40 varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. Students enjoyed smelling herbs in our “tea” garden by rubbing their fingers on the leaves of lemon balm, chocolate mint and lavender. Come tour our garden. There are raised beds of sugar snap peas, purple pac choi, Easter egg radishes and yellow wax beans. In addition, there are many varieties of flowers including snapdragons, sunflowers, nasturtium and French marigolds.
In Environmental Science, fourth graders researched heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. They learned that heirlooms can be hundreds of years of years old, often have interesting stories or histories and are considered by many to have a superior taste, color and smell. In conjunction with their study of heirlooms, fourth graders started Grandpa Admire’s lettuce from seed in March and transplanted it along with several other varieties in the Unquowa Garden when they returned from spring break. We have been enjoying delicious salads prepared by Chef Jess from lettuce harvested by our fourth graders!
The fourth graders just finished their annual biography reports. Parents and siblings were invited to become audience members as the fourth graders brought characters from history to life. They spent a month researching and getting to know a famous person of their choosing. Characters ranged from Emperor Qin Shi Huang to Malala. After extensive research, planning and preparation the fourth graders were able to become their character for a four minute presentation explaining who they were and why they were important to the world.
The third and fourth graders traveled to the Fairfield History Museum to learn about the origins of the town where they attend school. They examined life of the Native Americans and early settlers of Fairfield, comparing their lives to our modern day ones. Technology is the most evident marker of change over time. The third and fourth graders examined how much technology has changed in a few years from when their parents were growing up to now. They examined how far phones, cameras, and radios have come in a few short years. They were amazed at similarities between their own lives and those of the people that came before them.
Seasons change, but do you know why? In fourth grade science class, we have been studying the why. Models of globes were presented with a lightbulb to represent the sun. Student volunteers marked where we are in Connecticut and also the southern hemisphere. Then students were left with the questions, “Why do we have seasons?” and “Why do we have day and night?” After some trial and error, excellent queries as to Earth’s proximity to the sun, diagrams on the board and finding just the right tilt of the Earth’s axis a solution was found. Students worked together to determine that the revolution of Earth around the sun in an elliptical pattern of orbit combined with the tilt of the axis are the reasons behind our seasons while, the rotation of Earth on its axis provides us with day and night.
At the onset, the words SCIENCE FAIR may spark feelings of excitement, frenzy, confusion, or even dread. This is a very daunting task we place before our fourth graders. “Choose a scientific topic, formulate a central question and a hypothesis, create a demonstration or experiment to prove (or disprove your hypothesis), research the science behind your topic, write a conclusion and finally, present your findings to fellow students, teachers, family and friends.” At The Unquowa School, fourth grade is the initiation year into the annual science fair. We take this task and break it down into steps. Weeks are spent at school and at home preparing our students for the day of the science fair. As we progress, students gain the confidence of knowing how to approach a large assignment. Excitement and enthusiasm grows as students develop into knowledgeable scientists in their chosen area within the field. The day of the science fair arrived this year bringing with it our newly polished, confident and accomplished fourth grade scientists. Congratulations to all on a job very well done!