Thursday, August 23, 2012

Building dams on beach

We were really excited to get to studying dams, because that was one of the whole reasons we did this unit: the children (especially Seb) love dams! Our previous study of water pressure and waterfalls and mills made it really easy to understand the potential energy that can build up in a head of water. We drew lots of diagrams of how dams work:
One of Seb's diagrams
I wanted to have the children make a dam, but wasn't sure where to get enough sand/mud to make it fun. Finally realized the beach would be perfect (we brought some of our own gravel and big stones to use with the sand). It was so fun to watch all the different models everyone came up with, and the modifications they made as they discovered what worked and what didn't! Next time we will also bring large tongue depressors to use; I saw a video using those and popsicle sticks, and it looked like they worked quite well.

We did have one casualty to this activity: my large square rubbermaid container, which apparently floated out to sea. Other than that, we had a great time! :)
Such busy workers!

Junie was quite, some would say TOO, brave and independent at the beach. She went everywhere! When she spied these ducks, she took off like a shot after them, quacking frantically as she went. I had to run to catch her so she wouldn't follow them right into deep water!
"You are not a duck!" I said, and this was her sad response.

This was quite an effective dam---using my good cake pan, of course

Directing the flow

Is this baby wearing brown leg warmers?

This was another day---we built an arch dam with clay and cardboard, to measure the strength of different arch arcs (?) and determine which type of arch held the most water before failing. Very interesting.

One night this week we also watched David Macaulay's documentary Building Big: Dams. It's excellent; one segment of a 6-part series which we hope to watch the rest of sometime. We got it on Netflix.

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