September 16, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Hot, Hot, Hot!

In September in Arizona, there are two words to describe the weather: hot and dry! Here is our forecast for the next few days (the top picture shows the temperature in Fahrenheit, while the bottom shows it in Celsius for our international friends):
Hot, hot, hot!

While we wait for it to cool down, we looked up some facts about the weather in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

  • The hottest temperature ever recorded: 122F (50C) on June 26, 1990
  • The coldest temperature ever recorded: 16F (-9C) on January 7, 1913
  • The longest period of time without precipitation: 142 days, from October 2005-March 2006
  • Average number of days in a year with a temperature of 100F (38C) or higher: 106
  • Average number of days in a year with a temperature of 110F (43C) or higher: 17

The strangest weather day most of us remember was a day last February, when it actually snowed on our campus! Snow in the desert is very rare; in fact, it was the first time many of us had ever seen snow.

Snow in the desert

Photo taken February 20, 2013

We are looking forward to cooler days, but for now, even though it’s hot, we still enjoy being outside! Here are some pictures we took on our playground today.

May 15, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Engineering Week

This week we are learning about engineering. We learned that there are many types of engineers, like computer engineers, aerospace engineers, and industrial engineers. Before we started talking about engineering most of us thought that engineers were builders, but we learned that actually engineers are designers. They figure out how to put things together so that they will work better.

We started this week with an engineering task. The idea for this activity originally came from Mrs. Northrup’s blog.

Groups of three students were given 20 marshmallows, 20 gumdrops and 20 spaghetti noodles, and were asked told to build a tower as high as we could. They catch was that we could talk for five minutes during the design process. but we were not allowed to talk at all during the building process! It was hard to build without talking, especially when our ideas didn’t work out exactly the way we had planned.

After the activity we talked about some of the challenges we encountered:

As the towers got taller, they got heavier because of the gumdrops we used to hold them together, and the heavier towers started to collapse.

We thought it would be good to start with a cube as a base, but the towers fell over as soon as we added to them.

Here’s a video trailer showing our work.

On Wednesday we learned about geodesic domes.  We noticed during the spaghetti tower challenge that triangular bases were the most sturdy, and a geodesic dome is made of triangles, which makes the structure stable. We followed the same instructions Mrs. Hamman’s class used last year. Here are some pictures of our work.

On Friday we learned about potential and kinetic energy as we designed and built popsicle stick chain reactions. Here’s a good tutorial if you want to learn how to build your own:

If you became an engineer, what kind would you like to be?

Do you know what STEM stands for? 

April 11, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman

Journey North Mystery Class

Since January, our class has been participating in a global scavenger hunt called Journey North Mystery Class. Starting on January 28, every week we have been calculating the photoperiod (that’s the length of time between sunrise and sunset) in ten mystery locations around the world. This has given us a chance to practice calculating elapsed time. Here’s a video showing how we calculate elapsed time using a number line.

We started to see some patterns as the weeks progressed. Some locations’ photoperiods got longer from one week to the next, while others got shorter. We realized that if the photoperiods were getting longer the location must be in the Northern Hemisphere (like us), and if the photoperiods were getting shorter the location was in the Southern Hemisphere.

Three weeks ago we started getting interdisciplinary clues about the culture, geography and history of the Mystery Classes. We started doing some research to see if we could figure out where they are. Some of them were pretty challenging, but we think we are getting close to figuring them out!

We think the most challenging clues are the ones for Mystery Class 8. First we thought it was in Madagascar, then Australia, then we thought it might be in Indonesia. We still aren’t sure, but we are learning a lot as we do our research!

Is your class participating in Mystery Class?

Have you figured out the clues?



March 1, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman

Urban Hummingbird Program

Today we had a special visitor. Ms. Guevara from the Rio Salado Audubon Center came to our school to talk to us about the Urban Hummingbird Program.

Attribution: Seng, Nita. hbirdfirebush.jpg. April 30, 2012. Pics4Learning. 2 Mar 2013 <>

We often see hummingbirds around our school. Ms. Guevara taught us all about hummingbirds and brought us lots of interesting things to examine! Did you know these ten hummingbird facts?

1. Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere.
2. Some hummingbirds migrate through Arizona, on their way from their winter homes in Mexico to their northern homes in Alaska. Other hummingbird species live in our state year-round.
3. Male hummingbirds have a patch of shiny, colorful feathers called a gorget on their necks. This helps them attract a mate.

These are gorget feathers. You can see how small they are compared to the pencil eraser!

4. Female hummingbird have dull colors so they will blend in with their surroundings. This camouflage helps them protect their nests and their babies.

These are hummingbird nests. We were very surprised at how soft they felt.

5. Hummingbirds can move their wings 78 times per second.
6. Hummingbirds move their wings in a unique pattern. If you click on the link below can see us practicing the motion of their wings.

7. Because they are so active, hummingbirds need to eat a lot! They can eat as much as three times their body weight in one day.
8. If a hummingbird is in danger or can’t find food, it can go into a state called torpor, which is like a very deep sleep.
9. One of the hummingbird’s adaptations is its long beak, which helps it reach the nectar deep inside flowers.

This is a hummingbird skull, which shows its long beak.

10. You can attract hummingbirds to your garden by providing a feeder and planting the flowers that hummingbirds like.

Ms. Guevara left us with a feeder and a wheel to help us identify the hummingbird species we see around our school. We are going to observe and collect data on the birds we see this spring, and we will let you know what we find!

What species of birds do you see around your school?

February 7, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman

Save Our Rhinos!

by Andrew, Zac and Cameron

Our class and Mrs. Moore’s class are participating in the Travelling Rhinos Project. We are excited to meet “our” rhino, Makulu, as soon as it comes in the mail! To prepare for Makulu’s visit we have been doing research about the rhinoceros. Here are some facts we learned:

  • There are 5 species of the rhino family: white, black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan. The Javan rhino is the most endangered. 
  • Next to the elephant, the white rhino is the second largest land mammal. 
  • Rhinos are found in parts of Africa and Asia. 
  • Rhino habitats can be very different. Some species live in a savanna and others live in forests. 
  • Rhinos have bad eyesight but good hearing. 
  • A rhino is actually related to the horse. 
  • A rhino can turn very quickly and run as fast as 60 km per hour for a short time. 
  • Rhinos are endangered mostly because of poachers. 
  • They are hunted because some people think their horns can be used for medicine. 
  • Rhino horns are made of the same thing as fingernails. They can’t really help with diseases.   

Here is a ThingLink we made. Click on the colored dots to find out more about rhinos!

Here is a Smilebox of the rhino art we made. We learned to draw rhinos from this site, then we painted them with watercolors.

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What is your favorite animal?

What do you think kids can do to help endangered animals?

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