Kirsten Tuhus

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Recent Reviews by Kirsten


Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:33 PM
4 A Solid Introduction to Rocks
The Rocks: Categories by Process Science Object is a good and basic introduction to what a rock is and how to classify rocks based on their characteristic. The Science Object frames the exploration by posing the question of whether or not a bone found by a boy in Montana could be a dinosaur bone. We learn about how to ask the questions of where, when, and what in order to learn more about a rock. The lesson also describes how to classify a rock according to its color, texture, and context, although you will only learn how to identify a few rocks. I had hoped to gain skills in identifying the many different types of rocks I see while hiking, but since this is just an introduction I did not gain these skills. The Science Object also includes an introduction to the rock cycle and the difference between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. If you have no prior experience in the field of geology, this Science Object will help you form a solid framework on which to base further studies. If you have some experience with the concepts of the rock cycle, then you might want to skip this Science Object and move on to others in the Rocks SciPack. In retrospect, I should have looked at the introduction page and realized that I already knew the learning objectives and not continued with the lesson. This was my first Science Object, though, and was excited to see how it worked, so I persevered even though it really was just a review for me since I took some geology courses in college. It is always good to review knowledge learned in the past, and this certainly was not a waste of time, but I would more readily recommend this Science Object for people without a background in geology.


Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:33 PM
5 I Love This Unit!
In “Ducks Overboard: Understanding Cause-and-Effect Relationships Through Marine Debris”, Ingred Weiland and Caroline Sheffield outline a thematic unit for third through fifth graders based on the true story of thousands of bath toys which fell off a cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean. The week-long unit integrates science and social studies, and facilitates exploration of concepts including the movement of goods, world geography, decomposition of objects, and flotation. The unit also explores the human impact on the environment and the environmental consequences of a global versus a local economy. Some of the activities include reading a book about rubber ducks, watching a video about the Great Garbage Patch, predicting and testing items to see whether or not they float, analyzing where discarded household items are made, and looking critically at a photograph of a local polluted river. The unit meets several science and social studies standards, and has the potential to meet writing and reading standards as well. I really love the idea of this unit. I am always looking for ways to promote environmental awareness and stewardship in my classroom. This unit, in my opinion, has everything. It invokes a child’s natural curiosity, and it is collaborative, hands-on, and engaging. The activities are diverse, which is important for meeting the needs of a diverse group of students. The unit moves from a global focus to a local one, which makes the learning more relevant to the students, and also has the potential to empower students to make changes in their lives which will benefit the natural environment. There is also a great deal of opportunity to extend this unit to also meet reading and writing standards. More time can be spent reading the Eric Carl book mentioned in the article, with students reading with partners, learning and practicing new vocabulary words from the book, and taking summary notes and writing down questions and thoughts as they read. Students could write a story about the travels of some object that they choose, or they could write a letter to the mayor about the importance of picking up garbage and protecting the local waterways. This article provided me with a great starting point for a thematic unit. I look forward to customizing it and expanding it to suit the needs of my students.


Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:21 PM
5 Fun, informative, and interactive
I never tire of hearing about the different ways that species interact with one another. This Science Object was full of wonderful examples of all of the different types of relationships that plants and animals have with one another, including mutualism, commensalism, ammensalism, neutralism, and parasitism. While I was familiar with most of these terms, the Science Object presented them in such a way that I’m pretty sure I have got them all down pat. They repeated the concepts several times, gave a lot of different examples, and gave me plenty of opportunities to practice what I had learned, through questioning and also through an interactive game. I thoroughly enjoyed being a snowshoe hare and making decisions about where I should go in order to escape predation and get plenty to eat. This Science Object also helped me solidify my understanding of trophic levels and biomass pyramids. The graphics were very helpful, and I appreciated the interactive element in which you change the amount of hawks, snakes, kangaroo rats, and creosote bushes to see how other species are affected when there is a change in the population of one species. I would highly recommend this Science Object to anyone. I took a few ecology classes in college, and I have taught many of these ideas to elementary students before, so even though the concepts were not new to me, they refreshed my understanding and also gave me fresh examples of the different relationships between species. I’d like to figure out some ways to transform the interactives into hands-on classroom activities as part of an ecosystem unit for fourth grade.