After attempting to clean our dirty water, we began thinking about what was possibly still in our water and why it didn't get as clean as we hoped.
We began thinking about how some of the items in our dirty water got trapped by the tools, and why other items were definitely still in the dirty water or may be in the dirty water. Mrs. Brinza showed a silly example to get us thinking...
Of course an elephant wouldn't fit through a small hoop because it would be too big! This helped us see how the size of an item we put in the water would factor in if the tool we were using had a hole big enough to allow it to pass through or small enough to trap it. We still didn't really have agreement though, on what was able to get removed from our dirty water.
But revisiting our elephant example, we're starting to see how the holes/empty space/gaps in the tools we were using played a role in what got trapped!
From here we went back to our dirty water samples, drawing models of what we thought might be still in our dirty water samples based on what we thought could fit through the empty spaces in our tools. Check out some students' ideas!
Even though we had such interesting ideas, there was still a big concern in the way in which we were representing the water part of our dirty water, especially if we began thinking about patterns we saw emerging of what was able to be caught by the tools, and what was able to pass through them!
We began seeing how pieces of things get caught when the hole they're trying to pass through is too small for it, but this also meant that things have to be made of pieces to pass through a hole. We walked through some demonstrations to push our thinking deeper!
From here, we're thinking that if anything goes through even the smallest of holes, like in a coffee filter, it's got to be made of pieces, too. Otherwise it would get stuck if it was a BIG piece. We're sharing out our ideas of what water could look like knowing how it behaves with a tool like a coffee filter! How does water look if we were to zoom in on it? How does this relate to the things that may still be in it? Why can't we see them? Why do they go through the coffee filter, too? How does the WWTF actually get them out of the water, if they are just too small to be seen? So many questions!!!
We were super excited to organize cleaning our dirty water! Between the things students were given over the summer, and items that students found in house, they made their plans to clean their dirty water. Next up...make the dirty water!
We thought long and hard about what we should use and what would be safe!
We recognized that some of our classmates' suggestions may actually end up at the WWTF. We really wanted to make sure no one got hurt during this investigation, so we were committed to be safe in our homes and ruled out unsafe materials. Then we got to making our dirty water!!!
With our dirty water made, we were off to clean it. The excitement was contagious! There was lots of conversation centered around:
-OMG! This water is sooooo gross. I might vomit at the smell!
-My design failed. The water is still dirty!
-How on earth do they get all the dissolved stuff out?
-These materials are awful. Where can we get better ones?
So much to figure out!
After looking at our sketches/diagrams/blueprints, we came to the consensus that most of the water ns the sewer heads to a building called the wastewater treatment facility. We updated our model to look like this:
Even though ALL the water doesn't go there, we still had lots of questions about this place! We decided it would be in our best interests to go on a field trip there, but due to COVID-19, the plant in our city is closed for tours. They didn't even have a video for us to watch as an alternative, but two other cities did: London and NYC! So we watched them and took a virtual field trip to both of them!
We compared the two facilities and found some similarities and differences, but still didn't really know how they cleaned the water fully!
This made us revisit our investigation ideas and we took a vote! Maybe we could actually make dirty water and try to filter/clean it ourselves. Mrs. Brinza did give us some random supplies before remote learning started...
We're off and running thinking of how we can not only use stuff in our house to make dirty water safely, but how we could use these things to get the water cleaner! Check back soon for all our ideas!
With our investigation ideas documented, we're onto thinking we should head down the drain and figure out where the drain leads to...
Even though the resounding idea to stick a camera down the toilet was a big hit, it just wasn't possible! So we turned to some professionals who could do it for us!
We also looked at some blueprints and sketches/images of sewers to help us further develop our model:
And after many discussions and share outs via PearDeck...we revised our model. But we've got more work to do next week!
With all these new questions, and so many of our class valuing the questions, it was time to figure out just how we'd answer the questions! Boy do these fifth graders have some awesome ideas!