April 16, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Moon Phases

In fifth grade science, one of the things we study is the movement of different objects in our solar system. Earlier in the year we learned about how the moon’s gravity affects the Earth’s tides. Now we are learning why the moon appears to look different in the sky at different times of the month.

We have been learning about the movement of the moon by using different models. For one, we put a styrofoam ball on a pencil. We used a bright lamp to represent the sun, and our own bodies represented the Earth. As we moved the Moon in a revolution around the Earth, we could see how the Moon was illuminated differently depending on its position in the sky. Here’s a slideshow showing this:

Phases of the Moon from S Hamman on Vimeo.

We also created moon phase models using Oreo cookies! In partners, we drew pictures of the eight phases of the moon, then we made models from the cookies. The frosting represents the illuminated part of the moon.

IMG_0981 (1)


IMG_0973 (1)


Do you think planets have phases, too? 

(We’re going to find out the answer to this question after a video conference in a few weeks, and we’ll post the answer after we find out!)

March 10, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Mad Science Day

Mad Science Day is a day when we spend all day doing science projects. It started a few years ago as a way of celebrating Halloween, but now we like to have multiple Mad Science Days every year. We love getting the chance to really explore science in a hands-on way.

We had our most recent Mad Science Day last Friday. Since we’ve been learning about physical science this quarter, all of our activities centered on the things we study in fifth grade physical science. Together with our friends in Mr. Maijala’s class, we learned about the properties of matter—by making food! We also showed the difference between chemical and physical changes in matter. Then we learned about motion and forces by making and testing balloon rockets and marshmallow catapults!

We realized that we never posted about our earlier Mad Science Day this year, which focused more on life science and the scientific process. Our video shows pictures from both science days.

Mad Science Day from S Hamman on Vimeo.

Next quarter we’ll be studying earth and space science.

What do you think we should do for our next Mad Science Day?

May 20, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

Mad Science Day 2014

It is a tradition in our class to have what we call Mad Science Day on October 31. On that day, we spend all day learning about science and doing hands-on science investigations. This year, we had so much fun on Mad Science Day, we decided to have it twice! Last Friday our third grade classes had our second Mad Science Day of this school year. Here is what we did:

Mad Science Day 2014 from S Hamman on Vimeo.

We love science, and Mad Science Day gives us the chance to have fun with it all day!

January 26, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

Observing the Plant Life Cycle—With Pumpkins!

In third grade we study plants and their life cycles. This year we’ve experienced almost every part of the plant life cycle by observing pumpkins!

pumpkin life cycle

Like last year, we started by participating in the Pumpkin Seed Project. We divided into groups and estimated the diameter, weight and number of seeds in our pumpkins. Then we measured and counted to see how close our estimates were.

We took some seeds from one of the pumpkins and germinated them by wrapping them in wet paper towels and putting them in a plastic bag. After a week almost all of the seeds had germinated! We each took a seed and planted it in our outdoor planter.  We share our school grounds with a group of rabbits, and we think they must have eaten our seedlings because over one weekend they all disappeared!

We didn’t give up on growing a pumpkin, though. We took one whole pumpkin and left a few seeds inside of it, then filled it full of soil. Over a week’s time we observed the pumpkin start to sprout a little seedling, but the sides of the pumpkin started to decompose. After a week the sides were soft and moldy, but the seedling was still growing. This time we didn’t want to give the rabbits another free lunch, so Mrs. Hamman took the pumpkin home and planted the whole thing in a planter in her back yard. We looked at pictures of it over the weeks as it grew from a seedling to a mature plant, then it developed yellow flowers. The flowers must have been pollinated because one day a tiny green pumpkin appeared! Today there are eight small pumpkins on the plant, with the largest one being about six inches in diameter. They are all still a dark green color. What do you think will happen next?

Here’s a slide show of some of the things we did while studying plants.

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Have you studied plants with your class?

What did you learn?

November 19, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Exploring Photojournalism

On November 7, our class went to the Mesa Arts Center to see National Geographic Live. We heard from Paul Nicklen, a photographer for National Geographic. He talked about his adventures photographing animals in their habitats all over the world. He said that he got interested in nature when he was a little boy, exploring his home on Baffin Island in Northern Canada.

We decided to explore our own environment and learn more about our natural surroundings. Our school is surrounded by desert, and just to the south of our school there is a marked nature trail called Traynor’s Trail, which is named for a former teacher at our school. Last Thursday our whole third grade went on a walk on the trail, led by Mrs. Salmon, who is an expert hiker. We took pictures of the unique desert plants we saw on the way. Here are collages of photos made by members of our class (made on iPads with the PicPlayPost app).

Collage by Natalie

Collage by Natalie

Collage by Kyle

Collage by Kyle

Collage by Ezme

Collage by Ezme

Collage by Nick

Collage by Nick


When we got back we did some research about some of the plants we saw. Here are some of the facts we learned:

  • Barrel cactus can grow greenish fruit and orange flowers.
  • The palo verde tree grows yellow flowers and 2-3 inch pods filled with seeds.
  • Palo verde is the state tree of Arizona. Its name means “green stick” in Spanish.
  • A barrel cactus can grow up to be ten feet tall. They hold lots of water so they can last a long time in the desert.
  • Mistletoe is a plant parasite which grows on desert trees. It takes nutrients away from the trees and if it isn’t controlled it can kill the tree.
  • Cholla is sometimes called “jumping cactus” because the fruit can break off and cling to people and animals when they walk by.
  • The Saguaro cactus is protected in Arizona. It can be a home and provide food for many desert animals.

We didn’t expect to see many animals on our walk. Most desert animals stay hidden during the day, and the snakes and other reptiles we sometimes see in the desert are usually dormant this time of year. We were very surprised when a sharp-eyed hiker noticed this animal. It was off the trail, hiding under branches that provided camouflage, but Mrs. Moore was able to get a good picture with her camera.

Photo by Mrs. Moore and used with her permission

Photo by Mrs. Moore and used with her permission

Can you see the rattlesnake? That was a good reminder for us to always stay alert when walking in the desert!

Have you ever gone on a nature walk?

Can you define all the bold words in this post?

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