Rivendell Science

Migration~Ponds/Rivers Fish/Amphibians

We conveniently adapted our Immigration Topic Unit to Migration and merged this into Ponds/Rivers Fish and Amphibians.

This came just in time for spring!  We had a duck in the bushes with eggs, have been viewing the other birds, bugs, buds and blooms to support our idea of animals following food and mild weather.
Our kids have really enjoyed putting their graphing skills to work with the animal migration statistics. They have tracked a few of the longest migratory routes such as the arctic tern and humpback whale. We have incorporated other biological factors such as adaptations, habitat, hibernation, life cycles and human influence.

Our MK and OK got to go with a team of experts and check out the Riparian Zone near Spring Creek. The stream ecologists showed them the food chain beginning with algae, macro-invertebrates, spiders, bats and birds. We viewed the riffles, a holding pond and the difference between a healthy ecosystem and stagnant pond.
I set up a diverse habitat for PK and YK to explore. They used dip nets, hand lens, collecting bowls and data collection sheets to explore wetlands, rivers, ponds and streams. 

Innovation Station!!

Our Innovation Station is almost complete! with the money from our Otter Box Grant we have purchased a large set of Little Bits, shelving, tools, workbenches and all the consumable building materials we could dream of. The materials have already begun to enhance our learning possibilities in topic work.


Little Bits are a great learning extension to electricity. Now that the kids know all about circuits, they can use Little Bits to make electric inventions of their own.

Our Tool Wall has allowed our experience with the Industrial Revolution to come alive. All students were given the chance to work on an assembly line, make an invention of their own and develop an invention to solve a problem given to them.

Magnetism and Electricity

Electricity and Magnetism has truly been a fun learning experience!  We have explored polarity, talking about attract and repel. We explored Electrons(use the E to remind us they are -), neutrons (neutral) and Protons big P helps us to remember Positive. We tested a magnets strength or its FORCE, whether all metal is magnetic and how our Earth acts as a magnet. We played with the size vs. strength of a magnet and its magnetic field. We talked about the minerals such as iron, nickel, cobalt and magnetite, a rock that actually moves a compass and is magnetic! and We finally we learned about electromagnetism and motors in everyday life.

This led into the positive and negatives regarding electricity. We first explored the idea that metal is magnetic AND, it is also a CONDUCTOR> it allows electrons to flow through it.  We learned that the positive of a battery is like the south on a magnet with the negative pushing the current out like the north.  We used the word CIRCUIT as a replacement for CIRCLE and realized electricity only runs when the Circuit is closed. We made circuits, by stripping wire INSULATORS, inserting batteries, attaching switches and hooked up alligator clamps to even create series (christmas lights) and parallel circuits (our house). Our time spent as electricians, required us to realize the positive red end and negative black end of a buzzer and how they must connect with the same side of a battery. We learned that joining multiple batteries resulted in a brighter light.

The GRAND FINALLY was taking time to play with some of our Otter Cares Grant money….we all explored our Little Bits purchase to create circuits including dimmers, pulsators, motion detectors, lights of all types, keyboards and more!


Science opportunities to enjoy this month

Hi Everyone,

I want to send out some information about upcoming events in the community.

  1. Little Shop of Physics Open House: Saturday, February 25th 10am – 4pm in the Lory Student Center. This is free and open to the public. http://www.lsop.colostate.edu/open-house
  2. Young Scientist Challenge: Students, grades 5-8, are invited to create a 1-2 minute video describing a new, innovating solution that could solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists will be chosen for their passion for science, spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills. Thousands of students nationwide have participated in the competition and winners have gone on to do some amazing things; including speak in front of Congress, work with the nation’s top scientists, and pursue academic careers in the sciences. Enter Today! Challenge closes April 19, 2017. https://www.youngscientistlab.com/challenge

What are your plans this Friday, Feb 10 at 5:43:49 pm? That’s the maximum eclipse time for a penumbral lunar eclipse. The actual event starts earlier – see link below.


  February 10 / February 11, 2017 — Penumbral Lunar Eclipse


Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on Feb 10 – Saturday, February 11, 2017 – What time and where it can be seen.


Some questions for your child:

-Can a lunar eclipse happen at any time during the moon cycle? (A: Nope. It can only happen on a full moon.) This question is the crux of the whole idea. Could take a long time to consider – even for adults!

-What is causing the darkening of the moon? (A: Earth’s shadow)

-Are there different parts to Earth’s shadow? (A: Yes, a darker middle section, and a lighter outer section, the penumbra. This “penumbral eclipse means that the moon is not traveling through the darker middle part)

-A scientist said that looking at a lunar eclipse is like looking at all of the Earth’s sunsets at the same time. Why is that? (A: From the moon’s perspective, the whole sun is covered by the Earth, so it is as if the sun has set behind the globe of the blue planet. The light that reaches the moon IS actually the sun setting behind a small Earth!)


Hope you can enjoy it, and I hope we have clear weather.





We are taking an Earth Science approach to the topic unit Europe.  All students are learning about Landforms and what fun and fascinating information it is!

We have discovered that many landforms such as a plateau can be categorized into smaller forms such as mesa and butte. Or a gulf shrinks down to a bay and a cove.  We learned that an atoll is an amazing place to discover and who ever heard of a guyot?

We are talking about weathering from the hydrosphere affecting the geosphere and how plate techtonics are much like our blood stream, ever flowing and shifting, affecting everything in the whole system.  We have spoken to the rare sight of a geyser and how a u shaped valley was carved by a glacier but a v shaped valley by a river.

We have watched a couple videos, but there are hundreds to choose from and you should really take time to watch more with your family.



YK made layered landforms and discussed shapes of. PK sculpted these same easily identified forms. YK also used topographical maps to talk about height of a landform and identifying them in another way.  MK and OK are now learning some of the ways landforms are made such as weathering, erosion and deposition.

I can think like a scientist- back to school!

I hope you all were relaxed and surrounded with family and holiday spirit! I certainly enjoyed my “down time.”  Being home with the kids for two weeks must have given you a reminder of how nice it is to have Rivendell to come back to? The kids certainly showed enthusiasm and engagement in Science this week.  I like to give them time for “typical experiments” between each topic unit, so this was our week to get MESSY!

This week I introduced them to an evaluation sheet I will use titled “I can think like a scientist.”  It is a rubric to record their growth and demonstration of learning and participation in Science for the remainder of the year.  Some of the goals include: controlling my body while waiting for instructions, asking for clarification, stating observations, working with my peers, using basic scientific language, taking care of my materials, following directions, making and recording predictions, collaborating with a group or teacher.

The experiments this week were set in large and small groups..PK made magic milk and YK worked in groups to make a Rainbow in a jar and learned that everything is made up of atoms and molecules…some things have more molecules and are “dense.”  They then had 6 liquids to dye and predict density. After our predictions we poured them into a jar to see the layers separate and sit on top of one another.  ALL the kids LOVE using pipettes, beakers and measuring so this mess was simply AMAZING TO THEM!

MK and OK had 6 different experiments to choose from. They were expected to read the directions, gather materials, perform, record and share their experiment with others. This was what I called a “test” to see what their current abilities were regarding: following directions, collaborating, independence, observation, using scientific language to explain their observations and responsibility for materials. IT WENT AMAZINGLY well if you “don’t cry over spilled milk!”



I want to wish you a Merry Xmas from the APEX of my heart!

With the help from a parent, we were lucky enough to acquire 4 hearts! 2 bison, 2 cow.  They were given to us straight from the packing plant and were fresh and LARGE!  They were already cut open, so we did not technically “dissect” them, but we certainly INVESTIGATED them.

OK and MK were asked to find and pin the following parts: Muscle wall – to contract,“Heart Strings” – chordae tendinae- open/close valves , Pulmonary artery- moves blood to lungs, Superior Vena Cava- brings blood to heart from body, Left Ventricle – holds clean blood going to body, Right Ventricle- stores blood before pumped to lungs, Left Ventricle wall- very thick to pump all blood out. Adipose tissue- FAT, Apex- tip of heart, Auricles- Left and Right (heart ears) tissue of atrium, Interventricular Artery- listen to the word.. Atrioventricular Fissure (divides to parts of heart) Aorta- arch that leaves heart to body

YK had a similar experience with this list: Heart Wall- muscle, Ventricle-BOTTOM ROOM, Atrium – TOP ROOM,Vein- GIVES BLOOD TO HEART, Artery- TAKES BLOOD AWAY FROM HEART, Auricle – EAR, HEART STRINGS- open and close valve.

There were a few squeamish kids, but they all took a moment to appreciate the immense size and wonder of this organ. One of the biggest AH< HA moments was seeing the anterior arteries.  You could squish the air bubbles and remaining liquid up and down to see the actual flow of blood. It was amazing to watch and listen as they worked out the fact that the heart is a muscle and needs to save some of that clean blood to feed itself!

This was a gross, fascinating, mind boggling, though provoking experience for all. I hope you can take time to talk to your kids about it…even look up some videos and promote the follow up learning that is available to all of your kiddos.

Have a great holiday and enjoy your break!


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The Digestive System!

I know we all try to discourage “Potty Talk” but this week it was actually relevant. PK, YK and MK studied the Digestive system.

We worked in small group stations this week. Some investigated our interactive body and the removable organs, others matched up the organs and pictures with what system they belonged to, the third station was facilitated by me. We examined the most frequently talked about and thought of body system of all….the digestive system.  The children are constantly reflecting on food types, what is good and bad for you, what is protein, what they love and crave, so the Digestive System was naturally a favorite topic to investigate and study.  They can already name most of the parts, but what actually happens between teeth start and toilet finish is quite a marvel indeed.

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We used oatmeal, banana, egg, and bread to reflect on the process that food goes through. Kids mashed up food, added saliva (we measured 1.5 liters which is how much saliva our body produces each day) they shoved the food down the esophagus, added stomach acid- lime was a nice reminder of the gal bladder and mixed again. Next we funneled our breakfast into the small intestine (a pantyhose) squeezed and contracted as we discussed involuntary muscles. We talked about the body and how it needs vitamins and minerals as the oooey, gooey, mushy, oozing liquid went into our “blood stream.” Our next step was a little less gross, it was the large intestine (a rolled up towel) this towel represents the role our LI plays as it absorbs all the liquid and prepares for the waste product.  The finale was of course was the long stretched out panty hose squeezing the blob down the tube as it prepared for the final decent out the anus….between that plop and excitement only a couple kids actually said the word poop! They were so shocked that the mashed up food looked so different they forgot to make bad jokes!

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PK investigated the organs and matched them with pictures but I left the process out. Instead we dipped biodegradable packing peanuts into water and tried to make the longest intestines.  This led to many great comparisons and questions. We measured out the average small intestine (20 feet) and some even went as far as claiming that “their dad’s intestine was bigger than your dad’s intestines!


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OK took time this week to talk about muscle names, which have everything to do with their shape, number, size, insertion and origin.  We realized how tendons, ligaments and muscles all work together to move joints and built a “robotic hand.”

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Human Body Systems – bones, muscles and the heart

Our time together seems all too short now that we are studying such and in depth and practical subject. The human body! such a fun subject to study, collect, inquire, explore, collaborate and engineer. (that is my science acronym for our class)

There are SO many videos and games available to enhance this topic unit at home. I suggest taking a moment to explore the human body with your whole family!

Our time will be spent learning the skeletal system- types, function and layers of bones.  Exploring how a muscle works and types. Following the path of blood through our circulatory system and the heart. Investigating the function of our neurons and incredible speed and needs.  Our lung capacity will give us an idea of what a healthy respiratory system sounds and feels like. We will make filters to replicate the urinary and excretory systems. Our MK and OK kids will also be challenged with STEM problems regarding their chosen (recitation) body parts. Our topic unit will conclude at winter break when we tie all of the systems together and identify one of the most harmonious and industrious systems on Earth, our human body system.

Here are OK creating layers of the bone, grouping cells by their function and acting out the cell parts.


Here YK are walking the blood path through the heart and listening to their heart beats.


Here PK decide whether their body part is above or below the heart and enter the vein to walk the path to the lungs where they trade blue (dirty) blood for red (clean with oxygen) blood.