Electricity and Earthquakes

Your little one learned that if you are outside during an earthquake, it is important to get away from buildings, overpasses and power lines. To help convey this concept to our class, we created little villages with power lines, and structures that we used to protect our people. Your little one began this activity by spreading dirt onto a tray. They then used sticks and yarn to create electric poles. Next, we used small branches to simulate trees, and blocks to represent houses.

 

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We then placed plastic people underneath the power lines and then underneath the blocks. Next, we shook the trays, and observed what happened. Lastly, each student was then asked what they saw, and then where they thought their people would be safest.

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This activity targeted several learning objectives. First, your little one simulated safe behavior during an earthquake simulation. Secondly, students executed new language skills, as they discussed hazards, used and applied action verbs, and shared information.  And finally, each child accessed their critical thinking skills as they experimented with cause and effect, observation and evaluation, and creative problem solving.

 

 

Quake Challenge

Waves of energy moving through the earth in an earthquake can be a difficult concept for young children to understand. Pictures of the aftereffects of earthquakes do not clearly show how damage to buildings happen. A pan of Jello can be a simple and engaging classroom model for demonstrating wave motion and explaining how earthquake damage occurs.

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To begin with, your little one held a pan of Jello, as it was explained to them that it represents the ground, which moves during an earthquake. They were then directed to gently tap the pan to show the waves moving through the Jello “ground”. We then talked about what we thought would happen to buildings when the ground shakes. Using marshmallows and toothpicks, we created buildings to place on the Jello ground.

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We then shook our pans again to observe what happened. We began by shaking gently, and then created a larger earthquake. After the students tested their structures, they redesigned and rebuilt them to test again. As they did this, they were encouraged to discuss how to make them stronger, how long they stood up, and the different shapes they saw. Using paper and markers, they then drew and labeled the shapes in their “designs”.

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As a result of this activity, students explored a variety of concepts related to geology and number systems. Students additionally experimented with the physical properties of rocks, seismic events, and steps of the engineering practice. Lastly, your little ones conducted a scientific approach to creative problem solving, finding ways to meet society’s needs.

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Scale Model of the Earth

Engineers frequently use scale models and computer simulations to test concepts without wasting costly resources. Constructing scale models of the Earth assists engineers in the design of instruments that help predict earthquakes.

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Engineers also use small-scale models of our planet to understand the relative size of the Earth, model space flight orbits around the Earth, and predict how the Earth might change over time. To teach your little one about the layers of the Earth, students created a 3 dimensional model of the Earth using various colors of Playdoh.

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As a result of this activity, students were able to demonstrate an understanding of the shape and physical makeup of the earth including core, mantle, crust, and oceans.

 

Clouds and a Cotton Ball

For this activity, your little one demonstrated how rain falls from clouds with the help of cotton balls, turkey basters, and water. To initiate this activity, your budding meteorologist learned about the physical properties of clouds, how they are created, hold water, and eventually form hurricanes. This activity accessed several areas of development.

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By adding water to the cotton balls, each student experimented with a variety of measurement concepts such as volume, density, and weight. As they regarded the varying amount of water seeping from their “clouds”, they experienced the physical components of cause and effect. Lastly, they acquired new language, as they discussed how their clouds changed shape with the added water.

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Hurricanes, Rice, and Writing

The preschool years play a key role in the development of literacy. At this age, your budding writers are engaging in the important work of preparing to read and write. Before the formal study of literacy can be acquired, pre-writing and pre-reading skills need to be mastered. One of these skills consists of phonological awareness. Phonological awareness refers to letters representing sounds, that, when strung together, make words that create meaning. There are several ways to encourage phonological awareness. One thing we do daily is a show and tell of different items that begin with the letter of the week. For this particular week, we are learning about the letter H, so each child selected a particular item begininng with the letter H out of a hat. We then discuss the “H” sound that we hear in the word. We also sing silly songs that reinforce our understanding of this letter. For this particular activity, we used unsharpened pencils to rice to create our very own H’s.

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Graham Cracker Tectonics

Earthquakes occur to relieve the tension caused by colliding plates beneath the ground. To demonstrate the physical impact of these collisions, we rubbed graham crackers together. This enabled your little one to observe how the friction of this movement altered the shape of the cracker, and how this relates to earthquake formation.

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Though the concept of plate tectonics may be problematic to the preschool learner, experiences that provide them with a three dimensional reproduction of the the desired idea may assist them in understanding what it is that they are seeing. As they perceive the cause and effect of their actions, they can use their words to describe what they perceive as they seek out additional support.

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Global Warming

At this age, young children may have a difficult time understanding the scientific dilemma of global warming, so instead we focus on what we can do to improve our world. To foster awareness of the issue of global warming and how it may affect us, we removed trash for our Arctic animal friends and stuck any “glaciers” we found back together with toothpicks. We learned about where the Arctic is, and why it is important. We also read a book that relayed to us several important facts. One was that average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. Your little one also discovered that Arctic ice is getting thinner – melting and rupturing. Secondly, your budding activist listened to a story about Percy the Polar Bear and his adventures up north. Percy relayed the ecology of this beautiful land mass. That the melting of the once-permanent ice is already affecting native people, wildlife and plants. All of these components enabled your blossoming ecologist to perceive how this societal problem can translate into opportunities for their own future.

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