Second graders have been working on an authentic STEM project that centers around the topic of volcanoes. The essential question is – what predictable patterns or changes can be observed on and from the earth? In order to find answers to this question, second graders are learning what geologists do. The job of a geologist involves studying events that have shaped and changed earth over time. This includes earthquakes, landslides, floods, erosion, and volcanic eruptions. Students expressed an interest in learning about the openings in the earth’s crust better known as volcanoes.
We started the project by constructing model volcanoes out of modeling clay and a plastic cup. Next, we created volcanic eruptions using a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and red paint (to create a reddish glow for the lava like effect). Through trial and error students were able to determine the right amount of ingredients to create the best eruption.
The next step in our project will be to conduct research on the different types of volcanoes: cinder cone, composite, shield, and lava domes. Students will select which type they want to research and how they want to present their information to our audience of geologists, volcanologists and professors of geology.
It’s been a fun, hands on experience. Students are able to think critically, problem solve, work collaboratively, and communicate their results. These types of projects and skills will help carry them through the 21st century.