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Science:  Systems, Weather and the Water Cycle.

1.Question: How is the Earth like a ball in a jar? Introduced the concepts of systems both open and closed and how only energy basically can leave or enter the Earth.

2. Systems String Web: Passed out attribute cards for the four Earth spheres: hydrosphere (water), lithosphere (land), atmosphere (air) and biosphere (land). The purpose was to reinforce the concepts of systems and to teach the interrelatedness of the four where a change in one sphere results in a change in one or the other systems.

3. Read the non-fiction books Continents and Oceans and asked the students to identify which sphere was being talked about.

4.Using a globe and a bright light, demonstrated day and nigh. Then, by using a thermometer pasted to the globe, we tested that it was cooler in the Northern hemisphere tilted away from the earth and warmer in the southern hemisphere that was tilted towards the sun this time of year.

5. Sent home thermometers with the children and they were to record the temperature at their house each morning in Celsius. 

6. Then, in class, I explained geographically how Taipei was formed. The fact that the fact we live in a series of volcanic calderas makes a big difference in elevation as we go from sea level right up to 1000 meters in a relatively short distance.

7. Using pegs, the children had to indicate if they lived downtown (flat), near CarreFore or Tein Mu (300 meters), Section 7 (600 meters), YangMingShan. (700 meters) above sea level.

8. Using a simple graph, I charted the elevation and general location of the areas. Then, the kids were sorted into locational groups.

9. Temperatures can be affected by elevation, amount of light and protection from wind. The kids wrote the conditions of where they lived. Then, they had to predict if their daily temperatures would be more or less than the median of the day.

10. Each day, a clip graph of each child’s morning temperature was taken and the median found. The children graphed their results indicating their temperature, the mean and the difference between the two. They also indicated in pictographs, the current weather conditions. Finally, they wrote what the class generally wore in response to the weather outside.

11. After reading the book out loud, the students re-read The Sun-Our Nearest Star. The book describes the sun and how it proved the light and energy to enable plant and animal life to exist on earth. Special attention was paid to the unit Essential Question "What would happen if we had no sun?” and to find aspects of the four spheres.  

12. The Cloud in the Bottle demonstration to introduce the inverse relationships between condensation and evaporation.


  • Water vapor turns from a gas to a liquid.

  • This requires the application of a cold source.

  • The liquid comes together and becomes heavier. Starts to sink if in the air.


  • Water turns from a liquid to a gas.

  • This requires heat (from the Sun or another heat source.)

  • The water vapor is lighter and starts to rise.


13. Following that there was a center-based day in which the children deepened their understanding of condensation and evaporation. In an experiment called The Jar, students learned that the waver vapor from their breath would condense on an ice filled jar but not on a hand warmed jar due to the difference in surface temperature. In one called The Glass, children saw examples of evaporation and condensation as they saw water vapor rise from a steaming glass of water and no condensation on the side, while in the other ice chilled glass, they found condensation evident on the side but no evaporation due to the difference in temperature.

In a demonstration called The Blanket, the children observed the how cloud cover keeps temperatures steady by charting covered and uncovered beakers of hot water.




14: The final evaporation activity was based on melting three primary colored ice chips and predicting what would happen when they evaporated.

15. The introduction to wind, air pressure, and currents happened when Ms. Lee came in to show convection currents. She made use of a heat source (a high intensity radiant light) to warm air in a covered aquarium. The air was tracked by the insertion of an incense stick that provided smoke. A cold air source in the corner of the tank was provided by a bowl of ice. The students were able to watch the hot air rise, skim over the top of the tank until it cooled. Then, it dropped and snaked across the bottom of the tank demonstrating how wind occurs. 

16. Read the book The Magic School Book at the Water Works, which introduced the new concepts of precipitation and collection as the last two parts of the water cycle. The students made the mental link with the experiment that Ms. Lee did.


  • Water droplets collect into bigger amounts.

  • The weight become too heavy and the water falls.

  • How the water falls depends on where in the cloud it was and the temperature.


  • Water falls from the sky and hits the ground.

  • It soaks into the ground. Some is absorbed by plants. Some travels to to join up into streams.

  • Streams and rivers lead to oceans. In oceans or lakes, water evaporates again.

17. Students learned about the various kinds clouds. They then went outside and observed them while writing poetry about the clouds.

18. The students brainstormed various types of precipitation and then categorized them according to where in the clouds it was formed, at what general altitude and if it were a solid, liquid or gas.

19. The children accessed a site on Snow on the computer and cut out various snow flake patterns.

20. The students went down to computer lab on several successive days and did the grade level IT project  using Kidspiration to make their own water cycle diagram and facts.

21. After reading the books Monsoon and The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane, the class was able to see how dramatic storms effect the environment. This was the last essential question of the TAS unit.

22. On Bread Day, the class were able to observe yeast growing using both hand held magnifying glasses and by also looking through a light microscope. They also did a simple experiment to see under what conditions yeast grows best and if yeast produces gas.

23. On Rice Day, the students looked at three varieties of rice for their similarities and differences using the both the magnifying glasses and the light microscope.