The ‘Science’ behind building sandcastles

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Second graders at Washington Drive Primary School will soon explore how different elements, such as wind and water, effect and contribute to beach erosion.

But before they do so, their teachers needed to do some learning of their own. That’s why on Dec. 12, Melinda O’Donoghue, Suzanne Chmura, Kim Lupton, Millie Rivera, Monique Golding and Deb Phillips participated in a “Science 21” professional training course, taught by Kathi Dinota of Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES. 

The program, which Harborfields implemented in 2017 for its kindergartners and first graders, is an integrated K-6 science curriculum, “designed by teachers for teachers.” The curriculum, which is aligned with New York State’s Science Learning Standards, engages students in minds-on and hands-on science tasks relevant to everyday life. 

On Dec. 12, the teachers learned how to prepare and administer each of the 15 lessons included in the program’s second unit, which is designed to tackle Earth and space science.

One such lesson had them using varying diameter tubes to blow air, simulating wind, against a sandcastle made of cornmeal and water. The following two lessons then call for the design and construction of structures to prevent their choice of either water or wind erosion. Their creation’s efficiency will then be tested and the students will be required to compare each of their classmates designs to understand why one was more successful than the others. 

Each of the tasks in the curriculum’s three units are designed to test the students’ understanding of physical science, earth and space science, life science and engineering.