Here in Philadelphia, we are fortunate to
have the Franklin Institute at our fingertips! My class spent
a day at this science museum exploring concepts related to our
classroom study, and getting an introduction to some new ideas.
We spent about an hour in a room called "Changing Earth".
Half of the class rotated through three stations, while the other
half joined me at the giant stream table in the center of the
The three stations included a large wall of layered rock with
evidence of volcanic and tectonic activity, a seismometer attached
to a large rock which could be hit and kicked, and a chamber of
slow-moving liquid demonstrating convection currents.
At the stream table, I introduced my class to water erosion. We
had gone over some basic vocabulary in class, but this was our
first hands-on encounter. Adding water sources to a dry stream
table, we explored the ways water erosion could carve landforms
into a flat surface. We discussed the terms silt, sediment,
We also spent time exploring how humans change the way water
erosion creates landforms. Students listed modifications that
people make to rivers, and tried creating some dams and building
model houses near riverbanks.
Overall, the Changing Earth room was an excellent way to solidify
some concepts we had already investigated, and to build interest
in the concept of erosion.
After our time in the Changing Earth room,
we viewed an IMAX film about the dying out of coral reefs. What
a fantastic follow-up! The narrator describes the silt produced
by island logging as a major reason that the reefs are not as
healthy as in the past.