Creating the "Dead Stuff" Columns
With all our materials in place, student groups created their dead stuff columns today. We've got a ton of investigations going on, and it was exciting for sure!
We even are trying to figure out how we can accurately record data over time. Here are some suggestions:
After figuring out what happens to dead stuff (with larvae and a dead raccoon) and looking at it with a mathematical lens, we figured out a couple things:
1. The organism doing the eating gets bigger.
2. The organism getting eaten gets smaller.
3. The total weight of them together stays this same.
This got us revisiting our DQB for a couple reasons. First does what happen to animals happen to plants, too? And how do different conditions/variables affect what happens to the dead thing?
We decided to revisit our investigation ideas, and both classes wanted to recreate mini-models of the outside and change something about them to see how that variable would affect how dead things disappear. We decided to use clear bins because that would make it easier to see what happens. We brainstormed variables along with materials we could bring into class safely that are dead (plant parts) and mimic outside (soil, worms, bugs, water, heat, etc.) Between the two classes, we've got some interesting things to investigate!
We've recognized the connections between the flies, the eggs, the larvae and the dead animal. But we're also digging deeper into understanding our driving question for the unit, "Why do dead things disappear?"
We decided (with Mrs. Brinza's push) to think about mathematically representing what was going on between all these organisms. We brainstormed some things we might see in a mathematical model and came up with this list:
From there, we spent some time thinking individually, in partners, and then as a whole class as various student-groups presented! We even did it with some legos we had in the classroom!
We then came to consensus as we agreed that the raccoon was getting smaller as the larva that ate it got bigger!
It seems as if we've figured out a lot since we started thinking about what happened to the raccoon on the side of the road! We're steps closer to figuring out our driving question...and hopefully all of our upcoming investigations can help us answer all the other questions on our DQB!
The Flies and the Dead Raccoon/Badger
We came up with some great investigation ideas to see what actually happens with the dead animals and what we are thinking of as flies. However, bringing a dead animal into the classroom is, well, kind of a risk-factor!
Mrs. Brinza found two incredible videos which are helping us uncover the relationship between flies and the animal that dies.
These videos helped clarify a bunch of things for us:
1. Flies definitely visit the dead animal.
2. The flies lay eggs on the meat.
3. The eggs hatch into larvae (or maggots).
4. These larvae consume the meat, making it smaller.
5. After time, these larvae pupate and eventually emerge as adult flies, and then this process happens all over again.
We established consensus as a class, which is helping us to better understand why dead stuff disappears!
Now that we've connected plants to animals (as living things that die), we brainstormed some new investigation ideas we could do to investigate all our questions on the DQB! We're on to exciting things that will help us figure out all this stuff!
While we had conflicting ideas on what's happening to the dead animals over time, we began to think about other things that die, too.
For example, plants die, and so do phones and stars. But phones and stars dying isn't the same as plants and animals dying, because well, phones and stars aren't living things like plants and animals are.
So we think that maybe what happens to plants might happen to animals, too, but we're not really sure. So that's why we started asking some questions about what may happen to dead plants, too.
We set up our Driving Question Board today, and both 5th grade classes came up with some incredible questions. We tried really hard to link our questions to one another, showing we were not only listening to others sharing ideas, but building on others' thinking. Check out our work!
The Dead Badger
So while students came up with AWESOME investigation ideas to figure out what happens to dead things, Mrs. Brinza fell short. Despite going to the forest preserve over the weekend looking for a dead thing to take pictures of, there was nothing dead anywhere. Not a single animal...at least that she could find.
So she turned online and someone (thank goodness!!!) took a timelapse video of an animal similar to a raccoon, a badger! We watched the video multiple times and not only did it confirm some of the things we were thinking happened to the raccoon, it also brought up MANY more wonderings!
Between the two classes, we came up with the following reasons behind what was causing the badger to change over time:
With all these conflicting ideas, and lots of new questions, we're also seeing how our original investigation ideas might need to be expanded.
Wow, we've got a lot to ask and figure out!
Last night's HW was to come up with questions about the dead raccoon, especially as they related to what happens to it over time, the surface it was on, and why we don't see this all the time. We agreed that things die all the time outside, but we don't really see any evidence of their death, at least not for long.
After sharing out questions, we brainstormed investigation ideas we could do! What a list!!! It looks like Mrs. Brinza has to find some sort of dead animal this weekend, and find a way to capture video of it....OR bring a dead animal into our classroom.
After looking at our dead raccoon, we decided to figure out what could happen to this raccoon on the side of the road. Students created their own individual models of this phenomenon, and then we shared out, creating a class ideas list to summarize our findings.
We realized we didn't really have any sort of agreement on what would happen to the raccoon. Additionally, we began thinking about two important ideas:
1. What would happen to this raccoon (or other type of animal we may have had experience with from our related phenomena list) if it was on a different type of surface, like the forest floor, the middle of the road, or in a pond?
2. If we all agreed the raccoon got smaller or "disappeared" and only part of it remained, like part of its body or only its fur or bones, why don't we see stuff like this ALL THE TIME?
We're beginning to generate questions we're wondering about...stay tuned! We'll be setting up our Driving Question Board soon!
The Dead Raccoon
We started a new unit today, and our anchoring phenomenon was a picture Mrs. Brinza snapped from the side of the road one day back in October. She lives out by the forest preserve, and saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road. So what did she do?!?!?! Take a picture of it, of course!
We spent a good portion of the class really thinking about the raccoon, and while we tried to not think about how it died (there would be no way to figure this out now), we spent time noticing and wondering about the raccoon, especially since Mrs. Brinza has driven on these roads recently and the raccoon is no longer there.
Everyone had something related to share, and it seems like everyone has had some sort of experience with roadkill.
On a fall day, Mrs. Brinza saw this dead raccoon on the side of the road. Why not make this the foundation of our next unit!?!?!