Elementary School

Science: Hands-on Investigations

“What will all this water do to the land?”  inquires one student.

“How do we keep the house standing?” another student asks. 

Students in Grade 2 are learning about Weathering and Erosion in their current science unit. They have been taking a look at different landforms and bodies of water around the world. Students have also been discussing how the land changes over time and the impact of those changes on the landscape.

Once students had talked about slow change and fast changes on the earth, they applied their understanding to simulated situations using the Virtual Reality Sandbox. This sandbox allows students to simulate a variety of landforms and talk about elevation, as well as simulate a rainstorm and watch the impact of a large amount of water, on land.

Using this knowledge, students were given an authentic problem to solve in collaborative teams.  Sand trays were used to simulate the land.  Together they discussed possible ideas of how to protect the land from erosion.  In their teams, students made a plan, built a design with various materials, and tested it to see if it could protect the land.

This unit of study provides students with multiple opportunities to apply their understanding in new situations. It also encourages them to synthesize their understanding to solve a complex problem all while working collaboratively with peers.