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posted: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018
Rachel Bishop, Raynell Derrick, and Matthew Evans test their erosion prevention method

Preventing erosion

Monica Beaumont and Lauri Stokley’s fourth-graders are ready for jobs with the Army Corps of Engineers. The students recently created and tested erosion prevention methods right at their desks.

 Working in small teams, the students used clear plastic tanks of soil and cups of water in their simulations. They were challenged with diverting and controlling a stream of water from one end of the tank to the other in ways that would minimize erosion. (The tanks were set on a slope or tilted so that the water would run through a drainage hole at the bottom.)

The teams each tested three erosion prevention methods. After an attempt, the students spent time reflecting on how their models could be improved and wrote analyses of their work. They described the flow of the water and the effects of their prevention models, detailing what functioned well and what did not.

“The students really saw how they can learn from trial and effort,” said Mrs. Beaumont. “I was so proud of the way they worked together in teams. They talked things out and learned from each other. It was nice, too, to see teams acknowledging the ideas and efforts of other teams.”

The first attempt of the teams used just toothpicks, cardboard, and aluminum foil. Students were allowed to bring in materials from home for subsequent attempts. Sponges, Legos, and straws were some of the other items that the teams incorporated into their solutions.

The weathering and erosion experiment was part of the “Living on a Changing Earth” unit, a major component of the fourth-grade science curriculum. Students also learned about rocks and minerals, layers of the earth, and plate tectonics. 

Mrs. Beaumont and Ms. Stokley share two classes of students during the school day; Mrs. Beaumont teaches math, science, and social studies and Ms. Stokley teaches reading and writing.

Justin Adriano checks out the mobile weather lab's instruments

Weather lab comes to CMS

Instead of going to the t.v. for the weather report, the t.v. weather report came to students.

A WCBS-TV mobile weather lab recently visited CMS to provide third-graders with an up-close look at the weather instruments and electronic sensors that the station uses for broadcasts and forecasts. John Cleary, the engineering supervisor who designed the lab, provided details about the equipment. He also showed off the truck’s onboard video monitor that displayed the current measurements at the school of such things as temperature, wind chill, humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, and UV radiation levels.

The students had an opportunity to take microphone in hand and practice their own weather reporting, too.

“The kids were so excited to be a part of something so real and tangible to their learning,” said teacher Deanne Cornine. “To be able to see in-person how meteorologists predict weather patterns was a special experience.”

Weather and climate is a major component of the third-grade science curriculum. The unit, which runs five to six weeks, focuses on weather patterns, climate zones, instruments, predictions, and the causes of extreme weather. As part of the unit, some classes conducted an experiment to demonstrate the cause of rainfall. Students applied a layer of shaving cream “clouds” above a clear cup of water then dripped dots of food coloring onto the clouds. When the dye seeped through the shaving cream, color “rained” down into the water.

WCBS-TV's John Cleary discusses the mobile weather lab with third-graders
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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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