Rivendell Science

Earth Day…..bicycle education at Rivendell

Thanks for bringing all the bikes to school on Earth Day! Rivendell’s Environmental Leadership Team planned and partnered up with the City of Fort Collins, Safe Routes to School group.  They brought in cones, crossing signs, traffic signals and more to create a “bicycle education practice route”   Students crossed train tracks, traffic, trails and more as they rode the route created on the playground.   Kari provided a bicycle parts and maintenance station to help students Identify the parts of a bike as well as take one apart, pump up tires, move seats, remove chains and more!




The Dinosaur unit turned out to be a fantastic exploration into Cladistics…or classification. We used simple terms for PK like carnivore, omnivore, herbivore and long neck or sharp tooth.  Then we moved up a bit with YK to investigate their body type, diet and toes!  This was done with making tracks.  Sauropods and Therapods have 3 or 4 toes.  MK used the tracks to match up the dinos and then further classify them by period. OK used the entire dinosaur cladistics system to classify over 2o dinos and eventually used this information to understand and piece together a  story about a creature using the tracks. They were able to determine: type of prehistoric animals, size using step and stride measurements, setting and behavior. Along with exploring dinos, we used a prehistoric fossic kit from CU Boulder to investigate types of creatures found in Colorado throughout the Mesozoic Era.


Mesozoic Era…..246-65 Million Years Ago!

Here are some fun pictures of the Paleontologist Training Camp- Younger Kids at their Dinosaur Excavation Site.  Preschool dug last Friday as well. You many find photos in their news letter.  OK and MK also got involved with preparing the site. 

Science or Engineering. We have prefer both!

Students have focused on the scientific method but also played with the engineering design process. We took the STEM challenge approach and provided a set amount of materials with is similar design constraint as an introduction.

PK and YK received 20 cups and 20 sticks and were challenged to build the tallest tower and longest road. While all students worked with partners, YK drew individual designs and had a chance to change their prototype to reflect their design.

MK and OK actually worked with CSU Engineering students to design air pressure bottle rockets. Engineering students provided the launcher and guidance for a two week small group design experience. They taught the engineering design process, allowed for common restraints and student design. All groups had a mentor recorded design data and flight distance. The launch was exciting and full of learning!

Scientific Method to the Madness. question, observe, predict, record, conclude

While YK are still working together identifying each step of the experiment along the way…and recording what they remember and can tell after, MK  have moved into individual experiments and collaborative sharing of information. They all rotated through an exciting but simple set of experiments and shared a step of the scientific method with their peers.

Scientific Method

Science has been a real treat for the senses the past 3 weeks!  We have been learning the Scientific Method at all levels, which means, EXPERIMENTS!  This is the children’s favorite thing…..so I have been really feeling the love lately!  They have worked on the following skills

Asking a question, following instructions, noting their materials, making observations and recording them, making a “best guess or hypothesis” recording data and possibly analyzing it, making conclusions.

All of our experiments have been recorded on a variety of worksheets that will familiarize the kid with language, steps and turning a process or experiment into something that can be shared.

All of their written work will come home at the end of the year in a Science Notebook.  Some of their documentation will be on display during our “science share” night at Rivendell on March 8 from 6-8 PM.


Data – recording and analyzing…Asking a clear question. D Do Tall student’s have the biggest feet? height/feet length data

Floating M’s experiment=separation, dissolve, recording times for data

Variables, hypothesis and conclusion


Which candy will “melt–dissolve first” Question, hypothesis, recording 

Float or sink, things we see the same/different. Sharing information, building on previous knowledge to try again.

Surface Tension. Prediction, Hypothesis, Conclusion


I am thrilled to present an after school enrichment camp called MAKER MONDAY>

this group will give us plenty of time each Monday to dive into the creative world of Makers.  only 10 kids can register, so see the information below and email me ASAP to reserve your spot. kariwondergill@gmail.com

Meet in the Science Lab- 3:20-5:00   Age 7 and up   $90 per session

Session 1.  January 8,15, 22, 29    Session 2. April 2, 9, 16, 23

To register: kariwondergill@gmail.com

The Science Lab will be our maker-space for children to Dream BIG and build it! Students will be given tinkering demos and materials to design and build their own inventions.

Demonstrations and materials will include (but not limited to)

  • Take-a-parts
  • tool use
  • simple circuits
  • Makey-makey
  • Little-bits
  • tape, glue, knots and more!

My inspiration comes from AJ Juliani and John Spencer….check out some details here

some of our work might look like this!!!

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaKtnAsqlt4
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLKa2weeajI


I am hosting OPEN LAB time for all Middle and Older Kids on Tuesday and Wednesday from 12-1.  All students have had the privilege of coming in during their recess time to work in small groups on ANY project they like!

WE have made slime, kinetic sand, marble runs, reptile mazes and houses, crystals, dioramas and various explosions including launching film canisters from PVC pipes with the force of alkaseltzer!

Your kiddo knows the amazing possibilities that come with open lab and works hard to earn it each week. I began the year with open comments and expectations regarding “what kind of work” I look for “behavior I expect” and studious, curious kids who get an invite.  I honestly picked those kids, but I also filled in up to 20 slots each week.

In January I will be more selective and not just rotating through the list~ which means my expectations of their behavior and participation will come with reward. The privilege will be well worth working towards and I am counting on each child getting invited.


Geology continues with Minerals!

Our wrap up in Geology was studying minerals or as the kids say “crystals!”  We used our Geologist field notes and classification system from Rock ID….We checked its luster, cleavage, hardness and performed a streak test.  All of the identifying characteristics needed to be something OTHER than the color.  All the classes soon learned a lot of fancy adjectives such as Metallic, transparent, mottled, dull, waxy and more.
PK chose their favorite and circled the choices for smooth, sharp, bumpy> big, medium, small > shiny, spotted, stiped

YK took 2 different minerals placed them in the center with all the other mineral and described them to the group without saying its color while peers listened and guessed.

MK  did an official mineral study using a streak plate and scratch test. Though they learned to think and describe creatively, their main mission centered on Identifying the mineral….which was often difficult with such a random old collection.

OK worked on not only mineral identification, but the vocabulary surrounding it… including luster, cleavage, opaque, translucent, the mohs scale for hardness and more. They all worked in groups to identify their rock, its type and where it might come from.



Trace your Turkey, from Farm to Fork

For years now (14 to be exact) I have been teaching children about the energy required to get food or clothing into our lives.  It can be simple or complicated, dramatic or logical….but it is ALWAYS surprising and interesting!  I never skip an opportunity to talk through our favorite thanksgiving dish- Turkey.  This year I only had PK and YK that week, so I kept it minimal- well 16 steps. I didn’t add up all the miles or fuel or talk about inhumane treatment of animals….I just narrated the basic steps while they counted the farms, trucks and humans needed to make a great meal! Here is a snipet of what we did.  Turkey farm, truck, hatchery, truck,  chick farm, truck, processing plant- butchering, de-feathering and packaging (I skipped the injections of preservatives and hormones) truck, cold storage, grocery store, home and cooked by family. They called in deliveries and pick ups… happily managed the cold storage, store and pulled feathers with joy! All the while gaining an understanding for food and energy. I hope your child brought the paper and topic home to you and your dinner time conversations, because it is always worth discussing!