Mr. Harper is the Murdock Elementary School Science Lab teacher, funded by MESF as part of our mission to provide resources that will enhance the learning environment and educational opportunities of the students at Murdock Elementary School. Murdock students have enjoyed coming to the Science Lab during the first nine weeks of school to enrich the lessons that they are learning in their classrooms. Each grade has had several opportunities for hands-on fun!
Students began this quarter by learning to build a flowerpot from recycled newspaper and then plant a seed in their flower pot. The students then brought their flowerpot home to care for their plant and watch it grow. The youngest scientists then learned how different materials can be tested to explore what properties one item has compared to another. The obvious choice for this comparison was different types of slime. The students were able to handle and test the slime and then walk through a tub of slime. Finally, the kindergarteners learned about all the cool things in the Earth by study geology. The students studied different types and soils and rocks and even went inside a “mine” to excavate “gemstones” to take home.
Students learned how to plant the marigold seeds that were harvested from the school garden in the fall. This teaches them about the life cycle of a plant and the seasonal differences we can observe in the garden. The 1st graders also learned to make a flowerpot from recycled newspaper and planted enough seeds to grow marigold plants to grow in the science lab during the winter and then plant them back in the garden later this spring. Then our students learned about light and shadows by doing an experiment with crickets using black paper (night time) and white paper (day time). The students observed that the crickets spent more time on the black paper thus supporting our research that crickets are active at night.
Students had a lab experience that was just out of this world. This quarter the 2nd graders learned to use technology to study astronomy. We used the MESF iPads with a free augmented reality app called Star Chart to find and observe stars and planets. The school then borrowed one of the county’s portable planetariums that all 2nd grade classes were able to go inside. In the planetarium they learned to locate constellations and stars visible that same night.
Students learned about conservation and recycling. We used birds and bird habitat as a way to discuss the need to conserve our natural resources. Using wildlife, we learned that in order to conserve wildlife like birds you must conserve the habitat and food of that wildlife. If there is something lacking for a wild animal we can provide it like feeding birds in the wintertime. We can also provide shelter for bird by building birdhouses. Gourds were grown in the garden last summer and then dried out over the winter so that birdhouses could be made for Murdock. Each class saw how a gourd could be made into a birdhouse and was then given a gourd birdhouse to mount somewhere at school. The students then helped spread wildflower seeds like a bird would do along a fence row. We even used the gourd seeds that came out of the gourd birdhouse to grow more gourd plants. These gourd seeds and other seeds planted by the students have sprouted and are beginning to grow along the fence.
Students had a detailed explanation and experience with the free augmented reality app called Star Chart to find and study the differences in size and temperature of stars. The focus of this lesson was to teach them how to use technology to make their own astronomical discoveries. They learned how to use the app to identify a real life object that they see in the night sky as well as using the app to locate a known object like a planet or constellation in the night sky. The students then visited the county’s portable planetarium called the StarLab to view the night sky. The students were taught tips to find the Big Dipper, the North Star and the Winter Triangle (Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon) and use these easy to find celestial bodies to orient themselves in the night sky and find other nearby constellations like Orion, Gemini, Taurus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, and the Little Dipper. The students also learned how to use a paper version of a Star Chart (or Sky Map) as a way to identify other constellations once they have oriented their Sky Map to the night sky.
Students began the quarter by building series and parallel circuits to turn on a light bulb. The students then learned how to wire in a switch to control the light bulb. Our 5th graders then learned how these series and parallel circuits and switches are found in the home. The students also learned to use a microscope to view both plant and animal cells and identify the differences between both types of cells. The 5th graders will continue to use microscopes in the 4th nine weeks to study microbiology.
Murdock is so proud of everyone who took on the challenge of entering the Murdock Science Fair. We were represented at the Cobb County Science Fair by the 1st place winners from each grade. Murdock won 1st place in three of the grades and 2nd place in another two of the grades. Wow! This is just another great example of how Murdock excels in science. Congratulations to all the Murdock winners!
Murdock received an invitation to show off Murdock’s science lab vegetable garden on the 2018 Cobb County Master Gardener Garden Tour. Murdock is honored to be the only school garden highlighted on the tour this year. The garden tour will be held on May 12, 2018 and will focus on home gardens in East Cobb. More information about the Cobb County Master Gardeners and the 2018 Garden Tour can be found here. Mr. Harper will organize a number of garden workdays during the winter months so stay tuned for ways you and your student can help us get ready for the big show. If you would like to receive notices about these garden workdays please send email@example.com a one word email saying “garden”.