Predicting, Observing, Explaining

For the past couple of weeks, the children in 2C have been learning about what it is like to be a scientist and investigating how “Relationships between air, water, heat and land influence weather”. They have been talking about weather…what it looks like (form), what causes it (causation), and how it works (function).

To understand what causes weather and how it works, they focused on the question, “What gets things moving?” They observed several experiments in the classroom to investigate this and are learning to Predict, Observe and Explain what happened and how it relates to weather.

One of the experiments that they observed involved tying a feather, a mini paper airplane and a bit of tissue paper on separate strings and hanging them from a stand over a candle flame.

Here are a couple of their predictions.
“I predict the feather will melt.”
“I think the feather will move.”

Here is what they observed.

“The feather is moving.”
“The airplane is spinning.”
“The tissue is going around.”

Here is what they figured out as a class to explain “What gets things moving?” or in this case, “What got the feather, mini paper airplane and tissue paper moving?”

Some children thought that the wind was making the items move. Wind can do this. We shut the doors, windows, fan, etc. We looked closely for a change. The lit candle was taken away from the hanging items. We There was no movement. The lit candle was placed under them again.

“The fire is making it move.”
“It’s making it turn.”

During our conversation, the children were asked HOW the fire makes the objects move or turn, especially since the fire doesn’t touch it.
They thought…

“It is pushing.”
“What is pushing?”
“But, how? What is it making hot? What is just above the candle?”
“Heat waves!”

We carefully tested the air above the flame. It was indeed hot.

“What in nature gives us heat or heats up the air?”
They thought…

“The sun.”
“What do you think happens to the air when the sun heats it up?
“It moves.”
“What do we call air that moves?”

This past Monday, 2C had the opportunity to visit the High School Science Lab to do some more investigations about “What gets things moving?” and wear the white labs coats! Two of the Grade 12s (May and Caren), Mr. Hooker, Mrs. Kobayashi, Ms. Greenfield, and Miss Lang worked with 2C in small groups to do three experiments.

To prepare, the 2C students reviewed the materials, the set-up of each experiment, and the instructions for the three experiments before heading to the lab. Next, they predicted what they thought would happen in each of the experiments. Their predictions are included below.

Monday, the students practiced their Research and Thinking Skills with the High School science teachers and students. We wanted to find out more about “What Makes Things Move?” The high school science teachers and students prepared three experiments for the Grade 2 students to perform and learn more about our central idea, “Relationships between air, water, heat and land influence the weather.”


In the first experiment, called Moving Colours, the following materials and tools were used:

beaker of cold water
potassium permanganate
candle/alcohol burner
Some matches
Tripod and gauze

Experiment #1 Predictions:

“The water will turn purple.”
“The color will mix.”
“The water will get hot.”

To perform the experiment, the groups followed the steps below:

1. Use the small end of the spatula to add some potassium permanganate to the beaker of cold water. Try to add the potassium permanganate without mixing up the water too much.
2. Put the beaker onto a tripod and gauze. Carefully take the spatula out of the beaker.
3. Light the candle/alcohol burner and direct the flame towards the bottom of the beaker where most of the potassium permanganate is.

The children were asked to make observations and explain what was happening during the experiment. Here are some to their ideas:

“The purple is going up.”
“The color is going down.”
“It’s going around and around and around…”
“I think it’s mixing.”


“Why do you think this is happening? Do you remember what happened in the other experiment we did in the classroom?” The children applied their new understandings to a new experiment.

“I think the water is getting hot.”
“It’s making the color go up.”
“How is it doing this? It is not touching the beaker of water.”
“It makes the air hot?”
“The water’s hot?”

The air above the candle was hot. The metal and the beaker of water were carefully tested by the teacher too. They were also hot.

“It goes around cause it’s hot.”

In the second experiment, called Whirling Spirals, the following materials and tools were used:

stand and string/tape
paper spiral sheet
an electric lamp

Experiment #2 Predictions

“The paper will burn.”
“The paper will whirl.”
“What makes you think this?”
“because that is what happened in the other experiments.”


To perform the experiment, the steps below were followed:

1. Cut out a paper spiral along the lines drawn on the spiral sheet.
2. Attach the spiral from the X mark to some string with some tape. Tape the other end of the string to a metal stand.
3. Put a lamp underneath the spiral with the bulb facing upwards. Don’t let the paper touch the bulb.
4. Turn on the lamp and observe what happens to the spiral.

The students described what was happening to the air above the lamp? Here are some of their ideas:

“The paper is swirling.”
“It’s going in circles.”
“It goes fast, then slow.”
“It’s going faster.”
“Why do you think it is spinning around?”
“The lamp.”
“What makes you say that?”
“It’s hot.”
“Like the fire.”

In the third experiment, called Tea Bag Rockets, the following materials and tools were used:

Heatproof mat
Tea bag

Experiment #3 Predictions

“The teabag will burn.”
“I think the teabag will go up.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I thought that cause it’s called Teabag Rocket.”

To conduct the experiment the groups followed the steps below:

1. Take your teabag and carefully remove the label and staple holding the string onto the bag.
2. Open out the bag and empty the tea into the bin.
3. Use the scissors to cut a straight edge for each end of the bag.
4. Open up the bag to make a cylinder shape and stand this up on your heatproof mat.
5. Light the bag on the top edge and let the bag burn to the bottom.

“What happened?”
“The teabag burned.”
“The smoke went up.”


The very bottom of the teabag was supposed to fly up, but it didn’t. Sometimes, experiments don’t work, so the groups tried again. This time…

“It went up!”
“Why do you think this happened?”
“It was on fire.”
“It got hot.”
“So, what get’s things moving?”
“What else? What gets things moving outside?”

“The sun?”

Click on the photo below to see a slideshow in Flickr.

We Are Scientists!

This week, we began our second Unit of Inquiry: How the World Works. Our central idea is that relationships between air, water, sun and land influence weather. Throughout the Unit of Inquiry, the students will be inquiring into:

-Different types of weather
-The causes of weather
-Different methods to predict and explain weather
-How new evidence can change people’s thinking

We asked the students to observe pictures, videos and materials related to weather. The students recorded their observations by answering, “What do you see?”, “What do you think?” or “What do you wonder?”



What is this for?
I think water is falling.



I wonder what are these things (materials for experiments) for.
I wonder how scientists use ink (in experiments).

Ice Storm in Switzerland Slide Show

I think it is rain and then the snow.
I think it is about -20 degrees Celsius there.
I think the car is completely frozen, and you can’t open the door and it is frozen inside the car too.
I think the car is stuck to the ground.
I think it is very cold.
I think this is dangerous.
I think that it is very hard to live there in the winter.

Click on the album below to see a slideshow in Flickr.
G2 Weather Provocation

Next, we asked the students to think about their new Unit of Inquiry in terms of what they need to know, what thy are excited about, what suggestions they have, and what they wonder about how weather works.

Here are some of their ideas:

What we need to know…

I want to learn about rain because rain comes in different shapes.
What is the sun?
How does weather change?
How do you make lightning?
I want to learn about the summer.
How the rain works
I want to learn more about air. How the air is made…
How do you make wind?
How do you make water?
How do you make clouds?
How does the world work with air?
I want to learn how hot the sun is.
I want to learn about the air, sun and water.

What we are Excited about…

I’m excited of the clouds how they make storms.
I am excited about tornadoes.
I am excited of the new unit.
I am excited to learn about clouds and how they turn into different shapes.

Our Suggestions…

All the class needs to know that the sun makes water.
We need to know about the moisture and comes from the air.
Where does the sun go?
We need to know how land makes weather.
We need to know about water with sun.

What We Wonder About How Weather Works…

I wonder how do you make lightning.
How does water, air, land and sun make weather?
I wonder how the sun works.
I wonder how the air works.
I wonder how water changes to ice.
How does land connect to weather?
I wonder why the weather changes.
How do tornadoes form?
Why does a rainbow form?
I wonder how the world works because sometimes it’s cold, and sometimes it’s hot. How does it work?

Planning and Creating Weather Stories

In writing over the past couple of weeks, 2C has been talking about what makes a good story. Here is what they have been saying:

-beginning, middle and end
-the middle is the longest part
-the place
-interesting words or juicy words
-problem and solution
-interesting characters
-interesting events

To inspire the children about story writing, I made up and told them a story about a tornado that came to life. In the story, I described where the story took place, how the tornado was caused or came to be, what it looks like and the events in the life of a tornado.

Next, I shared this digital story with the children.
Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 10.00.50 AM
Click on the link below:
The Many Adventures of Drippy the Raindrop to the Mountains and Back
by Joel M. Kimball

Fully inspired and excited, the children got to work planning and creating their own stories related to the type of weather they have been inquiring into. First, the children folded a piece of paper three times so that they would have 6 sections. They filled each section with pictures and/or words for their weather characters, setting, events and details. When they were finished planning, they began to write their stories. Most of the students are at the point of typing and refining their stories.

Throughout our writing adventure, the children have been very focused and keen to help each other. They have been giving advice, reading each other’s stories, helping each other set up a Google document, and more.

Click on the photo to see a slideshow of the children planning and creating their stories.

Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation and How We Learn

Today, the children told me about their experiences in learning last week while I was away. One of the things that they shared was a song they learned from Mrs. Jalink. Right then and there, the children sang a song with motions for me. Here it is!

Later in the afternoon, we talked about the song and changed it a tiny bit to demonstrate our understandings better.

Next, we talked about the word EVAPORATION, and I drew a rectangle around the word VAPOR inside it. I asked the children what they thought of the word, and one of the students said, “Water vapor”. We talked again about how water vapor is a gas in the air, and we can’t see it, but we know it is there. We breathe it in, we breathe it out. I took my glasses off and breathed on them. They could see the water vapor condense on my lenses. I explained that this is because my breath is warmer than my glasses. When the warm, moist air hits something cold, it condenses.

Albin applied his understanding by making a connection. He said, “When I am at the ice rink, I can see my breath.”

We then talked about how our breath, which has water vapor, is much warmer than the cold air at that ice rink, so the water vapor condenses and forms a cloud for a few seconds.

Suddenly, our discussion morphed, as Lindsey wondered, “How did you learn all this stuff?”

I told the children that I learned from teachers, my own observations, and wondering…
Then I asked them, “How else do you think I learned?”

Here is what they had to say about how I (they) learn…

Your mom and dad…Takafumi
Aunt and uncle…Daniel
Sisters and brothers
Little sister and brother…Lavanya
Grandpa and grandma…Nina
Try and try and try and try…Albin
Try, try, stop, think, try, try…Chanu
If you try and try and try and try and if you can’t do it you need to stop and think otherwise your just wasting your time.
By making mistakes…if you make a mistake you learn from every single mistake…Takashi
Looking at things like the world or nature…Lavanya
like observe…Takafumi
Exploring new things, like if new things happen you might want to explore it…Daniel

More Experiments, Taking Action and Community Reading

This week, 2C demonstrated what we are learning about what happens when water vapor particles are cool and what happens when the sun warms them up. They made up their script on the spot and acted out their current understandings.

We are particles of water vapor. Daniel
We are soooo cold. Yellana
That is why we are together. Yuna
We move really, really slow. Lavanya
The sun is coming out!! ALL
We’re starting to spread out. Chanu
We’re moving really fast!! Troy
We’re going up!! Nina

Yellana, Vivian and Nina took some ACTION after our Community Gardening experience at Motomachi-Koen. They planted some of their zinnia seeds during their lunch recess and hope to plant more in the week coming. They have been very good about making sure that they are watered consistently, and we are looking forward to seeing them sprout!

On Wednesday, 2C visited the local Weather Center a block away. While there we learned that air has weight and looked at a real weather balloon. Weather balloons float high into the atmosphere and collect data on temperature, wind and moisture. We went to the roof to see the weather instruments that collect the data. We saw a lightning rod, a sun detector, an anemometer and more. We also had a chance to see some instruments close up and try them out. We learned that at the Weather Station they observe the clouds 4 times a day to record what type of clouds and how many clouds there are in the sky. While we were on the roof, we acted as scientists and looked at the clouds to identify them using a cloud identification chart. Luckily, it was a real sunny day with very few clouds, and we were able to see Fuji-san! By the way, the clouds we saw were cumulus clouds.

Ask your child about their visit.
How is wind measured?
How is rain measured? How does the instrument work?
How is a raindrop shaped? How do you know?

Click on the photo below to see the slideshow in Flickr.

Even though we are inquiring into weather, we had the chance to visit the earthquake room to see where data is collected about earthquakes in the area. Ask your child what the earthquake instrument looks like.

This Friday, we hosted our first Community Reading in the library. So many parents came to read with us, which made it really wonderful! We look forward to Community Reading every Friday morning beginning after assembly until 9:00 or 9:15. We hope you come again!!

Here are some pictures from Community Reading. Click on the photo below to see the slide show in Flickr.

Later in the morning, the Grade Twos did some more experiments to better understand what gets things moving in relation to weather.