Students begin the year with a review of Energy concepts previously learned in third grade. Students continue to investigate energy conservation and begin to examine the relationship between energy and weather. As students further investigate weather concepts they measure weather conditions with student created tools including wind vanes. Students also use other tools and devices to design experiments for air pressure, evaporation and humidity. Students examine their own data to draw conclusions, they also discover how various weather factors are used to reliably predict the weather. At the conclusion of the unit students are challenged to think like mechanical engineers in order to design a machine that can capture wind energy.
During the spring students continue to observe and record growth and behavior data for the Blanding’s turtles. At this time students are beginning to explore the diverse relationship between the Blanding’s turtles and their local environment. Indoor and outdoor investigations are designed to introduce ecological concepts of adaptation, and food webs and food chains in the context of the Blanding’s turtles and the local environment. Investigations explore plants as food producers, soil and light variables are examined to determine the best growing conditions for rye grass. Students examine the role of earthworms as decomposers as well as role play various predator- prey relationships that can be found in their own environments.
Citizen Science: Headstarting Blanding’s Turtles
This year marks the fifth year that CPS’s Grade 4 classrooms will be participating in Dr. Windmiller’s Headstarting Blanding’s Turtles project. In September each classroom received 2 hatchling turtles. Over the next 9 months students will be responsible for the care and data collection of the hatchlings.
The main idea behind the head-starting program is to place the hatchling turtles in an environment that provides the optimum conditions for growth. By keeping the hatchlings warm over their first winter and allowing them to eat lots of nutrient rich food the hatchlings should reach the size of 4-5 year old wild turtles when released. As turtles grow their shells become bigger and stronger which offers more protection from predators making it harder for animals to eat them. This is important because females are 14-20 years old before they are mature enough to lay eggs. “Head-starting” gives the hatchlings a chance to grow to a point where there shells are hard enough to protect them from potential predators in turn increasing their chance of survival.
To follow the latest news about the Headstarting project click here:
Field Investigations: Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Punkatasset Trail, Concord Town Forest