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ERIC Number: EJ1115440
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8148
Speleothems and Sand Castles
Hance, Trevor; Befus, Kevin
Science and Children, v53 n2 p36-41 Oct 2015
The idea of building sand castles evokes images of lazy summer days at the beach, listening to waves crash, enjoying salty breezes, and just unplugging for a while to let our inner child explore the wonderful natural toys beneath our feet. The idea of exploring caves might evoke feelings and images of claustrophobia or pioneers and Native Americans surviving with the land and its resources. In the classroom, sand castles and caves can help student-scientists engage "the science behind climate science" in a deep, rich fashion and without the political undertones in the headlines. Specifically, "drip" sandcastles are wonderful models to demonstrate the way water, soil, and air/gases interact over time to create speleothems, structures that form in "soft-stone" caves through the deposition of minerals from water, like stalactites and stalagmites. From a very simple perspective, weather is what is happening outside now ("minutes and months"), whereas climate describes long-term trends. This experiential lesson presented in this article models the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, which are types of speleothems. Scientists use speleothems as a climate proxy in reconstructing climatic conditions over geologic time and have hypothesized that the more rainfall there is over a given period, the more quickly the formations develop. The lesson is the final in a series intended to help fifth-grade students develop a foundation for scale relating to geologic time (temporal magnitude)--a concept they will explore more richly in middle school when they study the history of the Earth. The lesson does not offer a conclusion on climate change but instead contributes to a foundation and framework of climate science literacy, so as students grow, they are able to ask questions that will help them analyze issues affecting the world and propose informed solutions to current or future environmental challenges.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 5; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Texas
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A