The Stuff We’re Made Of

Our latest foray into the realm of research takes us on a journey into ourselves. We noticed lots of discussions surrounding lungs, breathing and hearts recently and decided to find out what our children already know about their miraculous machines.

“What do you know about the human body?”

  • Your eyelashes can blink. -CS
  • Heart pumps the blood.- AH
  • Lungs help you breath.- RF
  • Sometimes blood comes out of your body.-MH
  • Blood can come out of your finger.-KV
  • Your brain helps you think.-AG
  • Sometimes when you get hurt blood comes out and sometimes blood stays in.-KH
  • The heart beats.-NP
  • You can think with your brain.-LZ
  • The human body has legs and bones.-WS
  • Your food goes in the human body.-SS
  • Your trachea is made of rings and your esophagus pumps food into your belly in 3 seconds.-ZW
  • Blood goes through your veins and drops off oxygen, but sometimes it’s not working and you have to go to the doctor’s.-LW

STEM anyone?

How lucky we are to have the freedom to follow the ideas, questions and curiosity of children. During morning meeting Monday one student decided to shake elbows instead of hands with a friend. She gave a very particular reason. She said that her “molecules would get on” her friend.

Molecules?

What an interesting turn in the conversation. (We were planning to discuss the morning message; words that begin with the /h/ sound.)

Stop the presses! Scrap the letter H. We’re off to microbiology!

So of course our next question was, “What is a molecule?” Right away, we had hands up in the air. “Molecules full of dirt that could make a person sick.”

The example we gave them involved a little bit less germs.120214_7168

If one boy stands up, he is a student. If everyone in the group stands up, they are a class. Are they a class by themselves? No, but when you put a bunch of students together, they are a class.

Now look at the skin on the back of your hand. Your skin is made of millions of skin molecules. They are too small to see when we look with our eyes. If one skin molecule was hanging out on the back of your hand, would it be like the skin you have now? No. It takes many skin molecules to make the skin you see, just like it takes many students to make a class.

Rapt eyes and  engaging questions followed the discussion of our skin molecules.  We asked what our hair might be made of. “Hair molecules!” Of course! They discovered that everything in our body was made of special molecules that make different parts.  Then they noticed Mrs. Forst’s ring.  Guess what it is made of….metal molecules!  How about the easel? Wood molecules!  What about a basketball? (Uh-oh, a bit of confusion here.) “Wood molecules!”

Sounds like we might need to take a closer look at the materials that make up our world.

The Inner Workings of the Heart

Our heart study led to the creation of a gigantic two-dimensional version on our classroom floor.  The children below are demonstrating the flow of blood through the heart.  The children on the right side of the heart (blue side) represent the oxygen-depleted blood.  After they travel through the two right-hand chambers of the heart, they head to the lungs to pick up oxygen (the red pompoms on the floor.)  Notice how both sets of children carefully open and close the valves (pieces of yarn) in the left and right ventricles.

The child on the left side of the heart is the oxygen-rich blood (already carrying a red pompom) returning from the lungs and heading through the left-side heart chambers.  She then continues on through the aorta and onto the rest of the body.