Monday, May 12, 2014

Real (Weird) Science

Shan Science (every Monday and Thursday) is a time for Kindergartners to put on their science detective hats and explore the scientific method, learn vocabulary, and practice problem solving and critical thinking skills.  This week, for instance, Kindergartners received relevant information regarding tornadoes.  Ks first brainstormed the kinds of unpredictable weather Spring brings-rain, snow ( Can you believe that we are still not out of the woods yet?) and storms.  Teacher Shan spoke in more detail of  thunderstorms, storms of high wind, and the meeting of cold and warm fronts that result in tornadoes.  Kindergartners discussed not only the cause of this kind of weather condition but also its characteristics-a sudden quiet and calm, a dark and/or greenish sky, and a sound of many trains whizzing by.  Ks also learned about the difference between a tornado watch (weather conditions are ripe) and a tornado warning (sightings.)   Kindergartners were eased of fears regarding the likelihood of a tornado in Ann Arbor (this would most likely occur on the outskirts of town) and received empowering information  on ways to stay safe at school and home.  Safe places at home were noted-basements or shelters, closets, and even bathtubs.   They were also given possible shelters if outdoors or out and about, like in office buildings or ditches.  It is always good, by the way,  to have an action plan and  practice locating safe places at home as well.  Some children mentioned already having emergency radios and food and water reserves in their basements. 

Kindergartners were also reassured that the probability of experiencing a tornado was rare and that they were safe but it is good to know what to do just in case.  It was continuously stressed that the     Kindergartners were the most important "thing" to worry about in case of emergency far above their shoes, coats, or toys.    Their safety is always the priority!   Afterward, Kindergartners used their chemistry skills to assemble their own simulated "tornado in a jar" using vinegar, dish soap, and water.  They practiced the circular swirling motion of the jars to create the spiral and were able to identify the vortex or eye of the storm.  They then journaled about tornado terms, illustrated a spiral, asked additional questions, and reflected on all of their newly acquired information.  

The Science lesson concluded with a trip to the bathroom to practice a "tornado drill."  A mock tornado "warning" was announced by Shan, everyone lined up quietly at the door, and ventured to the first restroom on the  right near the water fountains.  Shan took attendance and then had every Kindergartner practice a safe body posture of sitting with their back to the wall and heads down in their laps.  They also discussed how important it is to stay calm as much as possible.  Traditionally, a story, toys, or games are in tow just in case the stay gets lengthy.  The children were told that weather conditions are updated by administrators with the aid of the Weather Channel app on cell phones and an "all clear" would be announced when it is safe. 

Today's tornado sighting near Gregory, MI. 
Coincidentally, about an hour later,  the culminating conclusion of the lesson involved a real life sighting of a tornado near Gregory, MI..  Kindergartners were prepared, calm, and cooperative as they were quietly ushered into the bathroom designated for us.  We heard Madeleine (in Spanish no doubt) read by Spenser's Dad; recited our "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" poem by Robert Frost for Dad and brother Nic;  played with Tinker Toys, Legos, and Uno cards; had a light snack (I know, don't think about it) and witnessed some of the most amazing Kindergartners on the planet sit for 1 hour and 36 minutes!!!!!!!!
All in all it was an awesome display of team work by kids, parents, and staff!  Thank you to the many Parents and Care Providers who came in and did whatever needed to be done to make sure our SK babies were comfortable, reassured, and fed.  Ks were very prepared!!!!

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