Rivendell Science

Where Do Puddles Come From? – Younger Kids

Big Picture:

Scientist use scientific drawings (accurate and realistic) along with scientific models (2-D or 3-D -shows how or why something occurs) to explain and show what something is, what they observed, or how something works.

Scientific Drawings


Scientific Models

Small Picture:

In Younger Kids we have been working all year on our scientific drawings (accurate pictures, that are the right colors, and have lots of details).

Scientific drawing of plants from our Nile Soil Experiment (in our school-wide Egypt unit)

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Notice how this scientist is using realistic colors for their scientific drawing.


This week we started work on scientific models, which show how something happens, or movement.

Scientific model from our Puddles Investigation


Notice the arrows showing the puddle “getting bigger” and the rain coming down.

First we did some research on how scientists and cartoonists draw movement and make invisible things visible





Then we created or initial scientific models:

Where do puddles come from?


Notice here that these scientists (above and below) are using accurate and realistic colors – that is important in making scientific models (and drawings).



             A scientist working hard at making their initial scientific model.



Notice the arrows in this scientific model showing how rain comes down to form a puddle. 


Notice how this scientist added accurate colors and extra details in the rain and shape of the puddles and clouds.



Notice how this scientist showed movement with arrows – arrows are a key part of many scientific models.



Notice how this scientist used realistic colors and shapes and added details to their scientific model.



This scientist explains that water goes back into the air to make clouds, and clouds make rain. 



Notice how this scientist uses arrow to show how their puddle gets bigger.

Where do puddles go?



Notice how this scientist added labels to their scientific model to identify parts of the model. They are also using arrows to show an initial understanding of the water cycle.



Notice how this scientist uses labels and arrows to show the role of sunshine in their initial understanding of evaporation.



Notice how this scientist used realistic colors and shapes to add detail to their scientific model. This scientist also used arrows to show the movement of puddles. Notice the importance of the sun in their ideas of where puddles go.

Our Most-Important-Always-With-Us Scientific Tools… Our 5 Senses! – Preschool

Big Picture:

As scientists we all explore the world using our 5 senses. As preschoolers, our 5 senses are our predominant way of testing, noticing, and exploring the world around us!

Small Picture:

The preschoolers were introduced to their 5 senses during a walk outside to see what we can notice! We had to learn new skills, like making a circle, for working outside and we rose to the challenge! Now we have used magnifying glasses a few times, and continue to explore our 5 senses, light and sound, and snow!


We were introduced to magnifying glasses…



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And we shared what we saw with our fellow scientists…




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Create a Desert Plant and Animal – Younger Kids, Middle Kids, Older Kids

Big Picture:

Plants and animals of the desert are well-known for their amazing adaptations they have to survive the harsh climate.

Small Picture:

Our Younger Kids, Middle Kids, and Older Kids came up with their own desert animals and plants that were perfectly adapted to the desert. Think flying cacti, birds with fur, and lots of poison and spikes!









Desert Adaptations: Preschool, Younger Kids, Middle Kids

Big Picture:

Animals and plants have adaptations to help them survive.


Small Picture:

Preschool, Younger Kids and Middle kids have been studying Deserts and Reptiles, and in STEM we learned how desert animals, desert plants, and reptiles use their adaptations to help them survive.

We walked with “Fox Feet” or “Coyote Feet”…

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We saw with wide “Jackrabbit Eyes”…


Listened for predators with “Deer Ears”…





Filled up with water like Aloe vera…


Had deep roots like Mesquite Trees…


And basked in the sun like a cold-blooded reptile…


Then climbed into the shade when we got too hot…

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See if your student remembers a Mesquite Tree’s deep roots, a Saguaro Cactus’ wide roots, or how to have “Owl Eyes” to hunt for prey!



Where are deserts located?: Older Kids

Big Picture: 

Deserts are located across two main latitudes. But, why? Why aren’t they scattered randomly around the globe? Something has to be happening to cause deserts to appear in about the same latitude all across the northern and southern hemisphere.



Small Picture:

The Older Kids are studying the question:

“Why aren’t deserts scattered around the globe? Why do they fall in two lines (latitudes)?”

First we drew models of what we thought as a group:

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Then we did a demonstration on how hot air rises and fills a balloon, but cold air sinks and the balloon empties:

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Then we made another model of our ideas by ourselves:

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Our ideas will continue to develop over the next weeks as we study deserts, wind currents, high and low pressure systems, and how air moves around the globe…



Why did Ancient Egyptians plant crops along the Nile?

Big Picture:

The Nile River was, and still is, an oasis in the desert. Ancient Egyptians took advantage of the annual flooding of the banks of the Nile River and planted their crops in the fertile “black land” along the sides of the Nile River.

Aerial View of the Nile River


Small Picture:

Younger Kids and Middle Kids are experimenting will different soils, dirt and sand to see which is best for growing Pinto Bean plants.

First we asked a question… because scientists ask questions!

The Younger Kids are asking: “Where will beans sprouts grow better? Sand or soil?”


The Middle Kids are asking “Will beans grow better in sand, dirt, potting soil, or my own perfect recipe of soil?” The Middle Kids got to plant four different beans in those four different soils. For, “the perfect recipe” they made up their own, so everyone’s is different.

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Now we are observing…

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And practicing drawing scientifically accurate pictures

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We practiced picking the right colors to draw a realistic, or real-life, picture, aka a “scientific drawing”.

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This will be a good lesson in observing and being honest in our observations. Some plants may not grow at all; some may grow best in a soil we did not predict would be best; sometimes our hypothesis may be wrong. We are learning that is okay! Sometimes, we learn more from experiments that do not end as expected! 

What’s the deal with wet sand? (Follow up!)

Big Picture:

How Egyptians moved the stones to build the pyramids (an engineering design problem we explored in our last STEM post) has been a mystery debated by scientist and Egyptologists. If Egyptians put the stones on sleds, the dry sand would cause major friction problems! When they pulled the sled, sand would build up in front of the sled – and no number of people or camels could move it!

Recently a group of researchers at the University of Amsterdam came to the conclusion that though dry sand causes all these problems… wet sand has much less friction, making it much easier to pull the sled!

This short Youtube video explains it pretty simply!

Small Picture:

The Middle Kids and Older Kids tackled this problem head on! And became physicists in the process!

First we explored wet sand vs. dry sand, and made a prediction, “Which sand will make the sled harder to drag?”

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Kids exploring wet and vs. dry sand

Then we studied frictional forces acting against a model-sled on wet sand vs. dry sand.

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Sled over wet sand (top) and sled over dry sand (bottom)

Middle Kids and Older Kids discovered that the dry sand would build up in front of the sled. As for which is easier… it was hard to tell (because our model was small, and our blocks were light). But we decided the sled over wet sand had LESS FRICTION and so it was slightly easier to move the blocks!

What We Learned:

Had fun? Check!

Questions? Answered!

Mystery? Solved!

Physics? Easy!

Physicist? Hard to spell!

How did the Egyptians move heavy stones?

Big Picture:

The Egyptians were innovators and engineers! They figured out how to move very heavy blocks to build their pyramids. pyramid_building

Small Picture:

The Younger Kids, Middle Kids, and Older Kids worked on solving a problem… How can we move stones across a room, like the Egyptians did?

We worked through the Engineering Design Process…

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Stating the problem…


and coming up with solutions…

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Then we built and tested our solutions…

Picking out supplies

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Working on our designs

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Improving our designs

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Engineering can be messy!


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What is STEM?

Big Picture:

STEM stands for:

S – Science

T – Technology

E – Engineering

M – Math

IMG_7535 STEM is what happens when those are all taught together and in support of each other! Science is our content knowledge, that might be knowing colors and shapes in Preschool, animal habitats and adaptations in Younger Kids and Middle Kids, or the periodic table in Older Kids. Scientists ask questions! Technology, in STEM, is anything that helps meet a human need or want – a rubber band, a desk, a whiteboard – those all meet needs or wants, and are all technologies, even if they are not electronic or computerized! Engineering is how we solve problems. With engineering, we will focus on solving real-world problems, and think about, or draw, a design before we build. Engineers always remember that failure is OK! If our first solution fails, we go back to improve our design (see the engineering design process below)! Math is how we measure or count in STEM. Anytime we measure distance, volume, or time, we are using math!

Small Picture:

For our first STEM lesson, in all classes, we talked about what STEM means, and started exploring some parts of STEM!


Singing our STEM song

S. T. E. M.  . . . That spells STEM!

S. T. E. M.  . . . That spells STEM!

S is for Science 

What do you see?

T is for Technology 

Helps you and me!

E is for Engineering 

problems and designs!

M is for Math

and measuring lines!

 Ask your students if they remember the song! Maybe they can teach it to you! If you have more than one kiddo at Rivendell, this song is something they ALL learned!

Big Picture. Small Picture.

Hi Rivendell Families,

Welcome to my STEM blog!

In my blog I will organize posts in a “Big Picture” and a “Small Picture”. The “Big Picture” is a grander scale of why or how we are doing STEM across all of Rivendell. The “Small Picture” is what this might look like in your child’s classroom!

For my first post, I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself and STEM!

Big Picture:

STEM: STEM is a new position at Rivendell and I am excited to be starting some innovative new things… to go along with our Innovation theme this year!

STEM stands for:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math

Emma: I love STEM and recently finished my Masters in Education with a focus in science education. I believe strongly in opening up STEM thinking and STEM careers to all children!

Small Picture:

STEM: STEM will look different in all the classrooms and will look different every week! All students, Preschool through 6th grade, will be doing STEM with me.

But, thinking like an engineer doesn’t stop after I leave! Instead, STEM will be a way of thinking and learning, that your child might apply at recess, at home, or on the playground!

Emma: I am new to Fort Collins and Rivendell! So if I look lost or haven’t learned your name yet – come say hi! I have had a stellar first FULL week of school, and I LOVE group sing! I spend my free-time in nature whenever I can!