Erosion Engineering

January 29, 2017 at 9:00 am (News, Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Alright stop!   Collaborate and listen.  The Little V’s are back with a brand new invention.  Vantaztic Learning has some mad skills on the mic, but even I can’t touch the brilliance that came from these young problem-solvers.  Your mind will be blown back to the 90’s to when we thought this track was solid,

Image result for vanilla ice 90s

as you listen to these clever devils collaborate.  See the thought process unfold for yourself as the scientists explain how their prototypes will slow beach erosion.

Makerspaces Engineering Erosion Project

Some background info for our readers:  The kids spent a day to design a blueprint of how their idea would look and created a write up of how it works.

Makerspaces Engineering

Day two (this day) was focused on creation of their sketch.  Next week they will test their project to see if it does in fact work, and if for some reason not, back to the drawing board.  For our fourth event day, we’ve invited a couple of professionals from our local community with background knowledge and first hand experience in beach renourishment to visit and listen to the students as they present their ideas, discuss the successes and drawbacks of the pretesting, and share their improvements.  Suppose we’ll have to wait to add more until testing and discussion take place, so for now . . . hit the hi-hat.  Word to your mother.

Makerspaces Engineering
Makerspaces Engineering


Makerspaces Engineering

We’re back and ready to share what worked and what needed modifications.  Our guest shall be here at the end of the month.  Enjoy, we’ll back after this paid programming announcement.

Erosion Wave Model


Engineering a Way to Slow Erosion
Wave Erosion Testing

2/23/17 Mr. Rudolph, “Rudi”, stopped in to listen to the young minds share their ideas and models to prevent beach erosion.  Mr. Rudi works for the Carteret County Shoreline Protection in Emerald Isle, NC.  He shared how to combat the erosion issue with the method Carteret County uses, dredging sand onto the beaches.  Fun Fact:  Sand is classified as sand if it is between 1/16-2 mm in size, any larger and it is mud, and then gravel.  Fun Fact:  An average of 1 million cubic yards are pumped onto the beach for a given project.  Fun Fact:  If sand is the erosion problem, then the solution is sand, putting it back to where it belongs.  The kids were engaged and developed terrific questions such as, “Would my hurt the environment?”, “How much sand is used to dredge back onto the beach?”, “How do you know when too much erosion is happening?”, and “What is your favorite part of your job?”.  Super way to end the week.  We are definitely spoiled to have so many resources at our fingertips.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Coastal Connections: Science in the Field to the Classroom

June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Below is a thinglink I have concocted to sum up the outreach events and partnering of local organizations relating to the field of science in which the students from the tail end of last year to the current roster have been a part of.  The roster of students of 2015-2016 have had been exposed to so many incredible resources that make our community.  It is uncommon for such a small place to have the vast amount of people working in related fields of environmental, biological, and physical sciences as it does.  These children have had more interaction with scientists throughout the school year than the peers from any region, making them stewards for our community and hopefully sparking a curiosity to pursue a career in a related science field.  In this case, it is good to be spoiled.

None of this could have been possible if it were not for a.) my colleague Lauren Daniel whispering in my ear to join her in this quest with the COHORT and b.) also the Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMAST) to put me in contact with groups such as the Coastal Reserve, Coastal Federation, NOAA, and Duke Lab (to name a few).  This thinglink will serve as my introduction to the National Marine Educators Association in Orlando, FL this summer.  I think the viewers will be impressed with what these young minds have experienced and created because of those experiences.  Please leave comments below if you feel the thinglink lacks explanation.  Just keep in mind these are only captions and I’ll be explaining the activities in depth.  I can always do the same in the comment section.  Thank you and enjoy.



Permalink Leave a Comment

Timeline Projects: Famous North Carolinians

March 21, 2016 at 8:07 pm (School Supplies) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The long time pay off.  The kids have been researching for the past month and rehearsing their facts getting ready for the big show.  Check out the fruit of their labors.  Watch these techy timeline projects on famous North Carolinians.  These were the early birds.  The rest of the projects make their way in tomorrow.

Meet Braxton Bragg

Meet Edward Teach (Blackbeard)

Meet Kellie Pickler

Meet Andy Griffith

Permalink 1 Comment

Exploring Circuits

March 9, 2016 at 8:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We’ve spent some time reading and exploring how to create a static charge.  We now know (I hope we remember) static means to stay still,  We’ve also added current (move), discharge (empty), and insulator (protect) into our repertoire.

We also have predicted and tested items that can conducts electricity vs those that will not.  Last week I attended NCTIES (nerd tech convention) and met a scientist named Steve Spangler, who seems to be on the Ellen Degeneres Show quite a bit.  Cool tidbit, his father invented fake blood.  See any movie ever?  Yeah, that’s his dad’s fake blood on the screen.  He said he was stoked seeing Jaws and thinking how all that blood came from his mom’s nine blenders in their basement.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway  . . .

Thanks to Mr. Spangler, we now have an Energy Stick (find them on Amazon) in which we conducted circuits, safely, through the human body.   We were able to make a class circuit with 4th and 3rd grade combined.  Next we’ll take a scavenger hunt throughout the school to find items that will conduct, allow to pass, electrical currents.  Then we’ll create squishy circuits (home made batches of play-dough) to explore more fun with electricity.  There are recipes for batches that will conduct and those that serve as insulators.  4AA Battery packs  ($2.48 per pack) will be in need – we only have one.  May have to get a Kickstarter or GoFundMe! Enjoy the learning.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Engineering Ideas: Irrigation

January 23, 2016 at 9:00 am (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Meet a group of engineers applying logical reasoning, problem-solving, and mathematical concepts to create an irrigation system to make water flow three feet (without leaking) and disburse into two separate cups evenly.  Students were split into teams to devise an irrigation company name.  These company’s were given a $500,000 budget to use towards materials needed for construction, but before being allowed to purchase, they needed a blueprint design of the construction.  Each member created an illustration and the members of each team voted on which design to use based on budget and style.  After blueprints were approved by the inspector (yours truly), they were allowed to purchase the needed items, such as plastic tubing, cups (plastic & Styrofoam), duct tape, pvc, clay.  All of these items ranged in price by foot and inch from $2,000 – $25,000.  Each company was responsible for keeping up with the budget and making modifications to the blueprints prior to changing the construction.

Prior to beginning this project, we researched what irrigation was, how the Roman Aqueducts were constructed and worked, and focused on ethical procedures – which tied back to our previous knowledge from lessons on deforestation and the estuary/dragonfly pond activities.  With every good intention there usually is some negative impact or consequence.

Irrigation Construction

With that, company’s went to work figuring out how their constructions should be made, placed, and would work.  To keep the ethical point in mind, we added a stipulation.  Teams had three chances to make their irrigation system work without springing a leak.  However if a leak occurred, a company would have to shell out $50,000 for EPA violations.  The issue the people in Flint, Michigan are experiencing with water quality or lack their of would appreciate this.  If a company was successful after three attempts they went on to become a multi-million dollar sought after mogul.  If a company was unsuccessful due to leakage or blockage of water flow, then they most likely went out of business.  However, some unsuccessful company’s had ideas to merge to pool together budget and materials.

There were many purposes to this lesson.  The subcategories are:

  • Did the students work as a team?
  • Did everyone play a role?
  • Did their system work?

Students will self evaluate their experiences during this activity when we return.  Thank you to for the lessons (some modifications were made).  Enjoy their creations.

CUB Irrigation
Irrigation 3
Irrigation 4
Irrigation 4

Permalink Leave a Comment

Fractions: Comparing Unlike Denominators

December 12, 2015 at 9:00 am (MATH) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Crickets.  That’s the sound you would’ve heard if blogs could make noise.  Been a while since any real substance has been posted I know.  

Well, after spending Fridays bulking up on fraction knowledge, the unit came at last (last week actually).  We are now full tilt in the fraction realm: concentrating on their sizes, what it means to be a fraction, and how we can use mathematical tools to compare them?

Let’s start with what we know about fractions (for 4th grade concerns).  For one all fractions can, should, & must be divided equally or what us high fashion fractitioners know as equivalent groups.  Fractions should also be congruent (same shape, same size).  It’s all about that mythical creature known as fair.

It wouldn’t be fair to compare apples to oranges, this years class to last years class, Superman to the Justice League, or Larry Bird’s jumper to Steph Curry’s (Bird wins).

Who likes short shorts? #80's

Who likes short shorts? #80’s

If I told you that when I was a kid I’d come home and complete half of my homework, while at the same time my sister completed half of her homework, and yet I’d claim I had more work than she did, would you believe me?  What if I told you she was four years younger than I was and that she only had a spelling assignment each night, while I had spelling, math, and reading assignments to complete.  What then?  Is half still equal to half?  You want to talk about fair?  When one kid has ten spelling words and finishes five then gets to roam the neighborhood, while the other has a list of 24 words for spelling (not to mention the other subject matter to decipher), where is the justice?  I implore you ladies and gentlemen.  Where is the fair?  Can we compare these two halves to be equal?  Absolutely not, but an argument I did not win against my mother.  In order to compare these fractions we must think of how they can be rearranged prior to analyzing if one fraction is larger than another.  Therefore we must break, split, divide, group, etc into equivalent parts.    And here is where we get to the tools.

Carpenters need a nail gun to frame a stick built house.  Pete Rose needed a bat to beat Cobb’s all time hitting streak.  Number lines are one of the tools we need in order to compare and explain how greater one fraction is than another.

After we create our line, I instruct the kids to then find halfway – no matter if we are working with odd or even fractions.  You can always find half or the center mark.  For now, we’re concentrating on whole numbers 0-1 (but will get beyond one whole in time) and fractions halves-16th’s (sometimes beyond this as well).  So after locating the center and marking it as one half, we treat the number line as a teeter totter, going back and forth writing fractions until reaching the middle.  

For example, if working with 6ths we begin at each end with 0/6 (zero) as our beginning mark and then 6/6 (one whole) as the end.  So far we have one fraction on each side of the one half (halfway) mark, making it “fair”.  Making it equal.  Since we have an equal number we can ask ourselves, “What is half of 6?”  You betcha = 3.  Therefore 3/6 is the same as one half.  Now we can continue the method going back and forth among the center mark with 1/6, then to the other side of half to mark 5/6.  Now back to the left side of half to make 2/6, and finally skipping back to the right side of half to mark  4/6.  Voila!  We have number line divided into sixths.

Confused?  How do you think an eight year old feels after being exposed to this the first time?  How do you think I feel after explaining this concept?  But wait shoppers there’s more.

We have only made our tool, not yet comparing fractions.  Let’s stick with sixths.  If I want to know if 4/6 is <, >, or = to 1/2, then I can mark 4/6 on my number line I so heavily invested time in and see that it is past the halfway mark.  Now with practice some kids will be able to explain that 4/6 is > than 1/2 since half of six = three (3/6), therefore 4/6 is more because 4 is more than 3.  Yet not all kids can compute 1/2 multiplied by three on the numerator and denominator equates to 3/6.  Some of us need visuals to conceptualize this.  I can see from our model that 4/6 is indeed > than 1/2 (3/6) by  1/6 of a jump.

Note:  The model below was found via Google search and not my fav.  I would have marked zero as 0/6 and 0, as well as 1/2 and 3/6.  Until I get a tablet with a functioning camera we’re stuck with the interweb’s pics.   I digress.


Last lesson, you’re doing great focusing on the task at hand.  Gold CUB Paw.  Let’s throw in an odd number, thirds.  The kids would find 0/3 and one whole (3/3) to mark on their number line.  To locate 1/3 we’d stop and do something most public education has abolished and deemed as unlawful.  Thinking.  Think and ask yourself, “How does 3/3 and 6/6 relate?”  

Double the top, double the bottom.  Repeat: 1/3 doubled on the top =2, doubled the bottom = 6.  Same for 2/3.  Double 2 = 4, 3 again = 6.  Place these fractions in the same spot because we’ve found equivalent fractions folks.  Now if you’d start making a number line with thirds, it’s just as easy.  Find your center mark and teeter totter on each side, keeping an equal amount of fractions.  0/3 to left, 3/3 to the right.  1/3 to the left of half, 2/3 to the right of half.  I can look and explain to you 2/3 is > than 1/2 because it is past half way on the number line.

I can compare 2/6 and 2/3  as well.  Now we’re looking at unlike denominators, fancy speak for “the bottom number of a fraction isn’t the same”.  Highfaultin talk I tell you what.  I can see that 2/6 is < than 2/3 because 2/6 is before the number line and 2/3 is past it.  I could also explain that 2/3 is 2 jumps or more specific 2/6 jumps past 2/6 (aka 1/3 simplified).  The explaining why and by how much is the main focus when comparing the fractions.  Yes you can cross multiply/butterfly method but it will not give the student the ability to compare by how much one fraction is greater than another.  That’s not to say we do not use it, but we use it to compare as a back up.  They third method is changing fractions into common denominators which is also covered with creating the number line.  But for now, I think I’ve thrown enough heaters, and it’s time to bring in the lefty = class dismissed.

Permalink 2 Comments

Yep, More Glaciers

November 7, 2015 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , )

Ever wonder how a glacier is formed?  Well the perks to being in this line of work, I get to learn about all interesting ponderings (is this a word?) such as this.  So let’s break it down.  Glaciers are gigantic conglomerates of rocks and ice.  When a layer of snow is deposited, added, to a glacier it freezes.  As more of these sheets of ice build up it adds weight to the mass and then creates movement.  Well, gravity helps aid this too.  Then once in motion, just like the bottom of your shoes, glaciers pick up dust and rock particles.  However, these dust and rock particles relatively speaking are the size of automobiles and houses.  It’s a continuous collection of snow, ice, and rock debris.  You can see from the models below the terminus, outer edge or end, of a glacier marked by the sharpie outline.  You’ll also notice erratics, globs of boulders left behind, and moraine (rock particles left in the wake).


Totally unrelated . . . Huge shout out to Rylie for rocking it in the Estuaries Poster Contest, bringing in 3rd overall in the 4th grade.  Her work was displayed at the local Lowes Foods Grocery and prominently put up in front of our room for all other aspiring artistic environmentalist to envy.


Two for One:  Rylie wanted to give props to Ry for the photobomb.

Permalink Leave a Comment

How Earth’s Surface Changes

October 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Below you will see our young scientists exploring the effects of weathering by break rock down into itty particles of dust.  We used sandpaper to represent sand along the beach or water smoothing out a stone in a creek.  We also created mini glaciers, watching how they change the surface of the land as it passed on through and then once more adding more friction to the surface.  The clumped sand you see left behind from our glaciers is called moraine, a fancy word for rock debris.  It a grain of sand were to be left all by its lonesome, then that is an erratic.  However most erratics look like this . . . 

The torn tin foil (our ground) is now carved into valleys and mountains.  Students finished by creating illustrations


The torn tin foil (our ground) is now carved into valleys and mountains.  Students finished by creating illustrations of the activity and labeling the parts mentioned above, as well as the terminus (the end of a glacier).  We’ll continue with how glaciers move tomorrow and hopefully get into some volcanic activity if we’re lucky.


Permalink 2 Comments

Coastal Federation

October 23, 2015 at 3:22 pm (News, Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Kristen Daly is a marine biologist that works in the educational department from the Coastal Federation right down the block from BSES.  She visited our class today to stress the importance of how storm water run off causes erosion and carries fertilizers and pesticides, not to forget litter, into our water ways.  The students each had a chance to add some type of consequence from the human footprint.  If only you could have been a fly in the room listening to them discuss and tie in topics of deforestation, erosion, conserving resources, being environmentally aware.  At times I wonder if they are listening.  Today proved not only that they are, but they’re also taking steps necessary to make life changes.  Yeah we recycle, but they also compost snacks, pick litter up around campus on their own accord, and are now voicing their awareness via blogging (click here to check out their stuff).  It is impressive for one so young to take charge.  As Stan Lee would say, “true believer.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Dr. Vicky to the Rescue

October 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm (News, Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dr. Vicky Thayer, marine biologist from CMAST, dropped in to give us a lesson on whale rescue.  The students partnered to brainstorm five items needed in order to save a whale tangled in fishing line.  After some time, the kids shared their thinking.  They came up with ideas such as medical tools and medicine to keep the whale calm.  Others thought a crane would be helpful to keep it above water.  Goggles were mentioned to keep the salt water that might be flying about out of their eyes, while also wearing a helmet in case the fluke (tail) came crashing down on them.  An elephant was brought up, the idea was to keep water sprayed onto the whale for comfort.  A knife or scissors would be needed to cut the line.

After the meeting of the minds, Dr. Vicky went into depth of how the course of action takes place.  But before doing so, she shared a large piece of baleen for the children to see and hold.  As you can see from the pictures, the baleen was taller than she was and to my surprise, quite hard.  I had always thought of it as more hair and soft tissue, but it felt more like thin bone or plastic (yes with hair attached).  Any-who, Dr. Vicky explained as she brought out her equipment that responders begin by tiring the whale out.  To slow the whale down they hook weight bobbers and a type of catch bag to pull water current.  They also insert a tracking device into the weight, because they are not guaranteed to keep up with the mighty beasts as they take off.  Once a whale slows down, the crew connect poles together.  Each pole is around one yard or so in length, and she had close to twenty one feet connected.  Then a retractable blade is attached to the end of the pole, which is meant to slide under the rope and flicks open when pulling back to cut the twine. Yes the have helmets and the cutting takes place at the back-side of the whale to keep out of the flukes wrath.

She mentioned that sometimes when an animal becomes free or has the sense of being freed, that is when responders are in danger.  The reason being the whale will take off before the job is completed, or once the line is cut, it could cause a tighter grip due to a leverage shift.  They whale could at any time dive straight down, taking the crew with them.  Man what an exciting job.  We ended the discussion with things we could do to help.  Of course, it all came back to picking up litter, as it tends to make it’s way to water.  Ever Google trash island?

I thought this would be beneficial since we’ve covered animals so indepth, as well as how humans leave their mark on Mother Earth.  More so, I wanted to expose them to not only a truly passionate and knowledgeable human being in Dr. Vicky, but also to a career path that is within their grasp right here in our community.  Whatever the cause, it was a big hit with the Little V’s.  Stay tuned for more to come.

Permalink 3 Comments

Next page »