SCHOOL: Banks Road
GRADE LEVEL: 3rd Grade
PROGRAM: Lava, Lakes and Land-forms
Scientist: Davis Tate
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of teaching Banks Road Elementary third graders all about landforms and erosion in our Lava, Lakes and Landforms program. We spend a big portion of the program talking about the water cycle and how rain collects into rivers and streams, which in turn can cause erosion, resulting in all kinds of new landforms. It’s a fun and exciting topic, and it helps students visualize a process that can seem too big to really get a handle on.
My favorite part of the program, however, is when we make our slimy lava flow! We explain that lava flow is a form of mass erosion, as it involves huge amounts of earth moving from one place to another in a relatively short period of time. The take-home project we use to demonstrate this is basically our standard slime experiment, but with a twist. Most commonly in our programs, we make our slime in a bag, and the whole class works together to mix the ingredients, causing a super cool polymer reaction, which creates our slime. In this program though, we give each individual student their own cup of Polyvinyl and allow them to measure the correct amount of Sodium Borate.They then mix them together on their own.
Obviously, making slime is always a treat, but the real fun is seeing the students’ faces when two liquids start to congeal and make something totally new right before their eyes. This experience of watching two different things become one totally new thing was and is one of the most exciting for me. While I may know the science behind what is happening, there is still something magical about watching chemical reactions like this one. For some of these students, this experience may be the moment, or one in a series of moments, that puts them on a path toward a passion for science. It is a true joy to see.