We were ieally thinking about water and it's connection to humidity and fog. Which also got us revisiting our consensus model we developed about why we see water and then why we can't. We "played" with some water a bit to try and see if we could break it apart, which was the opposite of how it seemingly came together on the petri dish by the humidifier's escape point.
We noticed a couple things--that water can get really small to the point where we were questioning whether it was still there, and that when two really small drops got near each other, they started to merge together, like "magnets!" someone screamed! We built a better physical model for this with some magnetic marbles Mrs. Brinza had lying around:
We saw a couple things from this: that water could get so small we couldn't see it, that water liked to clump together, and that once it clumped, we had a better chance of seeing it. Now we're wondering how this all relates to fog, which we can see. Hmm...
So we tried catching it on some clear petri dishes Mrs. Brinza had laying around, and we noticed some pretty cool stuff (since we weren't convinced that it was water leaving the humidfiier). We had a great discussion about it and decided it might be good to model what was really happening when something leaves the humidifier, since models can help explain things we can't see. Here's our consensus model:
We also read this really interesting article about a Chicago Bears' game in which the conditions literally changed from one half to the next. What started out as a beautiful sunny day turned into a foggy nightmare where no one could see the game. It turns out that the humidity increased drastically at the same time that the clouds rolled in and made it overcast. This got us thinking that humidity might not be the only factor affecting fog, but that a temperature change (and possibly due to clouds?) may cause fog. So we're starting to now think about not just putting a lot of humidity in our classroom, but maybe making it change temperature, too!
We're still not 100% sold on what humidity is and what it does once it's in the air (or not in the humidifier for that matter), so we'll be exploring humidity more!
After looking at our US Map with fog data, we needed a little more information about what might be causing the fog. So we asked Mrs. Brinza for some weather data on some specific areas of the country where there was both a lot of reported fog along with no fog. We even requested data from places that maybe were breaking some of the "rules" we thought might help form fog (like places that had fog but weren't near bodies of water).
And after everyone had a chance to look at data, here's our big summary table!
Our BIG connection between all these places seems to be high humidity. We're thinking that there are some other factors, but we're not really sure of these things yet, as there's a lot of differences between all these cities, too. We'll be exploring humidity next!
We ended our discussion in class yesterday coming up with more questions, and after using a Google Form, it generated a really great way for all of us to see each others' questions:
It was comforting to see that so many others still had the same questions as us, and we didn't really know much. We had a great conversation around our next steps, thinking about what would make the most sense to uncover first.
And while we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to just plug the fog machine in, we think that it's important we do some science figuring out to then help us with the engineering. We agreed that the person who made the fog machine must have known about natural fog first, and a couple people had the idea to look at natural fog in greater detail. If we know about natural fog, and how it forms, then maybe we'll have a better idea about how to make artificial fog in our classroom.
So Mrs. Brinza found a great map! We looked for patterns on the map to hopefully help us figure out natural fog occurences.
And after identifying patterns, we agreed upon some places to look for weather data, since we hear the weatherman talk about fog, it's gotta be related to weather, right? So Mrs. Brinza is going to look for some data on weather, like temperature, elevation, wind, rainfall, humidity, and anything else she can muster up!
So last week 6th graders had A LOT of ideas about fog--where it's located, when it happens, and how it happens. We share a lot of our thinking only to realize we didn't really agree on much.
So we decided to go two routes: open a fog machine (that Mrs. Brinza promised to get over the weekend) and look at natural fog to help us. With the power of the clearance rack and some awesome adventurers capturing fog in action, we saw some really neat things. We think our fog machines might need containers, heat, cold, wires, power, and all kinds of other stuff. Students developed their own models today to think about why they can't see through fog and we'll be sharing them tomorrow!
So everyone in class had a chance to set up their intial ideas regarding what they thought about fog. We sat in a scientist circle today discussion our thoughts to get everyone's ideas on the table. Here is what each 6th grade class is thinking about fog:
Fog Has Been Seen
Explanations for What Causes Fog
Now that we've got a lot of ideas (and differing ones, too), we decided we should set some parameters up before actually trying out some of our ideas. As a class, we made a Criteria and Constraints poster. We publicly posted it so we can always refer back to it as we try different ideas out and see if what we make is actually the fog we set out to create!
We've got some new ideas regarding our next steps, and there seems to be two resounding ideas: get a fog machine and look at weather data. The fog machine can show us how fog is made, and the weatherman talks a lot about fog, so maybe weather reports can help us. Since it's Halloween time, the HANDS-DOWN choice was to get the fog machine. Looks like Mrs. Brinza's got HW this weekend!
We're all sad that the start of the school year is here and that summer is over. But we're super excited that Halloween is the next big thing to think about. What better way to get in the spirit than thinking about transforming our classroom into a spooky scene?
We brainstormed A LOT of ways we can make our classroom spooky:
And from watching really small snippets of Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park, we agreed that making our classroom foggy was the best idea (all the other ideas are possibly just more "crafty" and not as "science-related.")
We then moved into getting our ideas out there for how we could possibly recreate fog in our own classroom, thinking about where we've seen fog and at what times along with where we would expect to see it. We've got some amazing ideas on the table!
With our established norms, it was time for us to actually start using them! During two activities, students practiced using these norms to complete a cup tower stacking activity and a mystery tube activity.
Each activity generated great discussion...and on Friday, we left with ideas about how the mystery tubes were configured inside. We'll be sharing out our thoughts on Monday in our first "Scientist Circle" thinking about whether this activity was actually "doing science" or not.
At the start of the school year, we spend what seems like too much time setting norms for our classroom, but boy, is it worth it! Both sixtgh grade classes set up their own class set of norms, starting with what a typical science classroom behaves like as individuals, then as a table group, and then finally as a class. Through a detailed discussion, we came to consensus, or a shared agreement for what should happen. We publicly posted our norms, so at any point in the year if we need to revisit them, we can. Great start to the school year 6th grade!