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Investigating An Ecosystem: The Seashore

The Seashore

Project Coordinators:
Rosemary Chambers, Science Leader
Mary Ann McBride, Program Support Teacher

F. Douglass School
22nd & Norris Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19121
Phone: (215)684-5063
Fax: (215) 684-8916
Principal: James P. Kane

The fish swim in the ocean.The trees grow beside the ocean.

Welcome to the Gold Star Academy of Frederick Douglass Elementary School! Ten classes are part of our academy:

Second grade
room 209, Lenore Grossman
room 211, Andrea Whipple
room 113, Lillian Slotkin
Third grade
room 210, Carol Usonis
room 303, Caren Cronin
room 219, Elana Solomon
room 208, Mattie Davis
Fourth grade
room 201, Roz Powell
room 205, Marlene Dancy
Special Needs
room 305, Edward Waters
Support Teachers
Bernie Rogers, Carol Phillips, Carla Glover, Deidrelaithe Gibson, Peter Casey

During April, 1998 all members of our academy traveled to Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park, New Jersey to experience first-hand a seashore ecosystem. Three different groups went on the 20th, 21st and 28th. Months before the trip the students investigated the non-living parts of an ecosystem--soil, rocks and water. After the trip they will use this knowledge to test and study samples of rocks, soil and water that they collected. During the visit to Island Beach the students participated in a lesson about the plants and animals found on the beach and in the surrounding waters and learned about the importance of sand dunes on a barrier island. Many of our students have never visited the seashore, so they were quite excited about the trip.

We would like to extend a special note of thanks to Peter Casey who first discovered the wonders of Island beach State Park and made the first contact with the naturalist at Island Beach in 1996. His continuing work with the students in our academy is a big part of our success.

Photos from the Trip
Terrance Gibbs, Andre Tutt, Khyzean Smith, Lamar Jones, and Angus Young pose in front of the ocean at Island Beach.

Photos from the Trip
Latoya Faulkner, Sheena Becoate, and Aiyshia Nesmith pose in front of trees that have been pruned by the saltspray.

Photos from the Trip
Omar Smith and Kevin Dixon look at some of the ocean museum's collection.

Photos from the Trip
We had a great lesson at the nature center.

The second-grade students studied soil by using the Science and Technology for Children Unit, "Soils." They found out that the "stuff" they find on the ground in the park, in their yards and on the vacant lots of North Philadelphia is not just "dirt."

We put 30 milliliters of "dirt" in the jar. We put 90 milliliters of water in it. Then we closed the jar and shook the jar of soil and water. Then it separated. The humus got separated from the clay and silt. The silt got separated from the sand and the gravel.
By Anitriya Sutton (113)

They also wrote descriptions of the different components of soil. Brittany Holt of 113 described sand.

Sand is like glass. The color is light brown. It feels hard like rocks. It has rocks in it. When you shake it, it sounds like beans. It feels like salt and looks like crystals.

See the sand at the seashore.See the sand dunes at the seashore.

Ashante Johnson of 209 described humus.

Humus is brown. It feels soft and soggy. It floats in water. It has stems and sticks in it.

James Adams of 209 described clay.

Clay is brown and orange. It feels soft and mushy. It feels and looks like flour. If it is mixed with water, it can be made into a ball.

Next, the second grade students found out how soil is replenished. They set-up compost bags. Nasheed Perry of 113 explained how he set-up it up.

We put holes in the bag. Then we put soil and water in the bag. We put dead leaves and red worms in the bag. In five weeks there will be gases in the bag and the leaves will be gone.

Jeremiah Smith of 113 said, "I think in 5 weeks I would see dead grass and big worms.".

After two weeks the children examined the bags with a hand lens. This is what the children of 113 saw.

Kyzean Smith - The worms are playing in the soil.
Terrence Gibbs - The worms are crawling on the leaves.
Jeffrey Wright - The worms did not change.
Tevin Farmer - The worms are eating the leaves.
Shakila Alexander - When we came back our worms were big.
Samuel Polk - The worms are making holes.
Charlean Sudler - They built homes out of the dirt.
Darrin Mouzon - The leaves are turning yellow.
Robert Hill - The leaves are rotting.
Sheldon Robinson - The leaves are black and dead.

The third-grade students investigated rocks by using the Science and Technology for Children Unit, "Rocks and Minerals." Before we started our studty of rocks, the children wrote "What We Know About Rocks." Here is what Jasmine Davis of room 219 wrote.

I know that rocks are hard. If you break an old rock you can find fossils. Some rocks are big and some are small. You can make a rock out if mud. Rocks are different.

First, they collected rocks from their neighborhood. They weighed them and used their senses of sight and touch to describe them. Omar Smith and Gerald Brown of 210 collected 12 rocks. Here is how they described six of them.

Rock#1 - My rock is big and gray and hard and white. It is smooth. It does not sparkle. It is not shiny or dull. Under the rock it is black. This rock weighs 96 grams.

Rock #2 - It is little and dark gray and light gray. It is smooth and does not sparkle. This rock weighs 35 grams.

Rock #3 - It is all white and it has holes on one side. Inside the holes is shiny and outside it is shiny too. This rock weights 67 grams.

Rock #4 - It is all white with a green mark on it. It is all smooth. It has three cut lines on it. This rock weighs 21 grams.

Rock #5 - It is light gray and dark gray on the other side with white in between. Another rock is in it. The brown rock is smooth and the big rock is rough. It has a bump on it. This rock weighs 47 grams.

Rock #6 - It has a rough point on one end. The rest is smooth. It has white spots on it. It has black spots on it. It is dull. This rock weighs 25 grams.

Lashonda Williams and Jessica Hallagher of 219 found three rocks in their neighborhood. Here is how they described them.

Rock #1 - I got the rock from a lot. The rock is bumpy. It looks like tar. The rock makes your hand black.

Rock #2 - I got the rock out of a lot. The rock is pretty. The rock is crystally. The rock is bumpy. The rock is hard.

Rock #3 - I got the rock from out of the dirt in the lot. The rock is clean. The rock is bumpy. The rock is gray. The rock has smaller rocks inside of it.

The children learned how to test the hardness of minerals. They used the scratch test with 14 minerals. Here are the results of Erica Robinson and Kimika Hughston's (210) test.

Talc, biotite, calcite, sandstone, halite and siltstone will not scratch a penny. They are the softest minerals. Graphite scratches a penny but not glass. Pyrite, magnetite, hematite, granite, quartz, conglomerate and chalcopyrite will scratch a penny and glass. They are the hardest minerals.

The third-grade students classified eight minerals according to luster. Christina Moore and Antonique Singleton of 210 recorded the following results.

Pyrite, galena, granite and magnetite have a metallic luster. Sandstone and plagioclase are dull. Quartz has a pearly luster and halite has a glassy luster.

They also conducted a streak test. They scratched each mineral on an unglazed tile to see the color of the streak.

Michael Autrey of 210 made this chart.


Color of Streak

Finally, the students found out which minerals reacted to an acid (vinegar).

Byron Watson and Jasmine Davis of 219 wrote that halite and sandstone dissolved (disappeared) and calcite bubbled up when acid was dropped on them. Nothing happened to the other minerals they tested.

Continue - Part 2

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