Another dusty installment from Room 66....today I've had a moment to catch all of you up on all the findings we've been doing with our soil. So many wonderful things. Overall I would have to say that engagement in this process is HUGE...students have been very careful to follow the protocol and to follow each step precisely.
Take a look at the concentration on their faces.....
We've been joking that the gold miners of '49 don't have anything on the matrix examiners of Room 66. Seriously they've looked thru each little bit....using spoons and toothpicks to uncover bits of shells, very small snail shells and even smaller and more fragile clam shells.
I didn't know if they would have enough patience for it...but they definitely do.
This is not normally how precise 6th graders are about anything. But I think they felt the responsibility to do a good job for the scientists....so they rose to the challenge.
Look at this young scientist....he's using a toothpick to make sure he doesn't miss anything or that he doesn't damage anything. He found a shell almost completely intact. Then a few minutes later, he found the very small bit of shell that was missing...when I tell you the missing piece was no bigger than a 2mm square, I'm not exaggerating.
In addition to being on task, learning so much....well, they're having fun. Isn't that what learning should be like?
Today we hooked up the new digital microscope and here's an image they took. So excited and we've just begun to learn how to use it. This is an amazing image as the real-life thing is only about 1.5mm across. This is magnified 40x.
This new microscope makes it possible for the whole class to see this kind of magnification from their seats as I project it up onto the wall. Now what do you think they will be drawing for the quantitative observations tomorrow? I have to say that when the group projected this image for the rest of the class.....a collective "oh yeah, I get it now" went through the class. Originally they had thought this mastodon lived in a frozen tundra....Siberia like.
Suddenly presented with these kinds of shells, they are having to revise/rethink....and build new conclusions.
Suddenly they are beginning to think that maybe it was warm and wet...places that snails and clams like to be.
Gotta love the scientific argumentation process when you actually have evidence they discovered that can be used to put forth an argument that real middle schoolers can make. I know the HS and life science people have been doing and doing and doing this. But it doesn't happen all that often for us earth science-middle school types. So I'm counting this as a huge victory for my kiddos.
Again...it's a journey for me. Getting out of their way...using my expertise to find and design experiences like this. Letting them become all that they can be. Don't you think when they write up their conclusions they will be powerful ones...full of amazing evidence and lots of hard thinking. They will have spent the time working with the materials so they will know everything this soil has to reveal about life 9000 years ago.