The Murdock Science Lab is fully 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.
In addition, Murdock’s Science Lab Garden has been consistently featured at Cobb County’s Master Garden Symposium and has been the only school garden to participate in Cobb County’s Tour of Gardens.
Spring 2018 Update
Murdock students have enjoyed coming to the Science Lab during the fourth nine weeks of school to enrich the lessons that they are learning in their classrooms.
In Kindergarten, students have explored both plants and animals through hands on activities in the lab and in the garden. Our youngest scientists also planted marigold plants and sunflower seeds in the garden, both of which are growing well. The Kindergarten students also had numerous opportunities to view the tadpoles, chicks and mealworms growing over 5 weeks.
In 1st grade, students learned about the needs of animals by adopting and caring for mealworms in their classroom. The 1st graders were responsible for feeding the mealworms slices of potato and they all did great observing the mealworms over an extended period of time. Observing change over time is a critical element in getting students to think like a scientist. The 1st graders also helped plant marigold plants in the garden to attract pollinators to the vegetable plants. The students also had numerous interactions with the tadpoles and chicks in the science lab as well as extra visits to the garden to check on the marigolds they planted.
In 2nd grade, students explored life cycles of plants and animals during this quarter. The students explored plant growth over time by planting a pea or green bean seed and watching the plant grow over a five-week period. Chicken eggs were incubated in the science lab and the hatching of the eggs was timed to coincide with the 2nd graders lab so that they could observe the chicks hatching. The chickens stayed at Murdock for 5 weeks so that students could observe changes over an extended period of time. The students also observed tadpoles developing into frogs over this same period. Scientists never just look at something once, they make observations over an extended period of time to track changes and was emphasized during these life cycle experiences.
In 3rd grade, students learned about heat and how insulation works. The students were challenged to work as teams to design and build a container that could hold an ice cube and prevent it from melting. All of 3rd grade was given the same materials and rules for this challenge. Each group weighed their ice cube before and after the timed challenge and results were summarized for all of third grade.
In 4th grade, students learned how scientists study the health of an ecosystem by dissecting an owl pellet. Extra emphasis was made to gross out the 4th graders so they remembered this experience. When an owl eats a rodent it cannot chew up the bones because birds do not have teeth. Owls have the ability to roll up the fur and bones into a pellet inside their digestive system and then regurgitate this pellet of bones and fur. Scientists can study the same population of owls in an area by collecting these owl pellets over time. The owl pellets are dissected to identify the type and number of rodents eaten by an owl. Tracking these data over time allows scientists to determine if a particular rodent population is changing. The 4th graders identified and counted the bones in their owl pellet to determine what their owl had consumed. The 4th graders used the lab’s dissecting microscopes to study the teeth and skulls of the animals to correctly identify the species consumed.
In 5th grade, students spent a large amount of time using the lab’s compound microscopes. The topics studied this nine weeks were plant and animal cells and microorganisms. The main emphasis for the 5th graders was to practice using a microscope and prepare slides to observe microscopic life. Learning to properly use science tools is one of the main benefits of Murdock’s MESF funded Science Lab. This nine weeks they expanded their microscope skills by making a wet mount slide of onion skin to view plant cells and a wet mount slide using the cells from their cheek so they could view their own animal cells. Disposable lab materials were used for the cheek cells activity. Learning to focus on a stationary object is a challenge for most microscope users and by the end of the 4th nine weeks the 5th graders could all focus in on the target object. Students also learned about microorganisms that are found in the classroom and on surfaces like the handle of the sink.