Grade 6: Week 1 Overview

Dr. Merritt

Hello Grade 6 TASIS science students. Dr. Merritt has been busy preparing this week’s lesson overview for you. Please understand that all of your TASIS teachers are working very hard to get their lessons online with only a VERY short amount of time to do so!

Dr. Merritt will update this post throughout the week, so that you can always come here see the most comprehensive, up-to-date overview of this week’s Grade 6 science lessons.

Once you go to our Google Classroom, which is where ALL weekly assignments will be kept, you will quickly notice that Dr. Merritt is using file naming codes to help you keep organized. For example, all files belonging to “Week 1” begin with W1 at the start of their file name. Lesson files are always numbered to correspond to specific days, For example, all L1 files belong to Monday’s lesson, all L2 files belong to Tuesday’s lesson, all L3 files belong to Wednesday’s lesson, and all L4 files belong to Thursday. Lesson activities are always named in the order you are expected to do them: A0, A1, A2, etc. A complete file name thus has three parts. For example, “W1.L1.A0” is a Week 1 (W1) assignment occurring on Monday (L1) and, if it is the first activity (A) listed among activities (A0, A1, A2), it is the one you should do first.

Dr. Merritt requests that you do this week’s activities in the order listed under each Lesson shown below. If you have a printer at home, you might even consider printing out this post and crossing your assignments off as you complete them. All assignments should be accessed through our Google Classroom.

Don’t forget, Dr. M will be available to answer your questions during each lesson, as if we were still going to school. On those days that we don’t schedule an all-class Zoom meeting, Dr. M will be available for one-to-one Zoom conversations, which you can request by sending him an email (brett.merritt “at” tasis.ch). Also, don’t forget to keep using Veracross, which will always list all assignments and their due dates, as well as Grade 6 “This week in science!” page which, as you can now see if you look to the right of this page, has been renamed “Week 1 – Distance Learning.”

OK, so here is the Grade 6 science plan for Week 1 (so far!)…

Lesson 1 – Monday

  1. Complete Assignment W1.L1.A0 (Weekly Survey). Available now!
  2. Complete Assignment W1.L1.A1 (Solubility Investigation Results). This is a ‘read-only’ assignment. In other words, there is nothing to write, answer, and/or submit. Available @ 08:00 on Monday morning.
  3. Complete Assignment W1.L1.A2 (Solubility Graph Instructions), which requires you to a) make a line graph using an online graphing program, b) download your line graph to your device as a PDF (or JPEG) file, and c) upload your line graph file to our Google Classroom according to the instructions provided. Available @ 08:00 on Monday morning.

Lesson 2 – Tuesday

  1. Class meeting at 08:00 on Zoom!
    • Dr. Merritt will post a Zoom invitation with all of the necessary meeting information (codes, numbers, links, etc.) to the Google Classroom Stream.
    • In this meeting, we will not only talk a bit about Monday’s lesson, but also the different ways you can get help/assistance/support from your teacher throughout the week. We will also get ready to tackle Assignment W1.L2.A1, a hands-on investigation which is described below.
  2. Complete Assignment W1.L2.A1 (Eggsperiment Method & Results).
    • This assignment requires you to perform an investigation at home AND enter your results into a single, shared document already contained within our Google Classroom. Available @ 12:01 on Tuesday morning.

Lesson 3 – Wednesday

  1. Class meeting at 08:00 on Zoom!
    • Dr. Merritt will post a Zoom invitation with all of the necessary meeting information (codes, numbers, links, etc.) to the Google Classroom (look in the Stream) and will put it in the A period Google Hangout a minute or two before the meeting begins.
    • In this meeting, we will talk about your Eggsperiment results. What was the mass of your egg? What was the volume of your egg? What was the density of your egg? How many grams of salt did you have to add in order to get your egg to float?
    • We will also get ready to tackle Assignment W1.L3.A1, which is described below.
  2. Complete Assignment W1.L3.A1 (Eggsperiment Data Transformation).
    • This assignment requires you to take data assigned to you from the class data table and re-present it in the form of a graph/chart using Create a Graph. Available @ 12:01 on Wednesday morning.

Lesson 4 – Thursday

  1. Class meeting at 08:00 on Zoom!
    • Dr. Merritt will post a Zoom invitation with all of the necessary meeting information (codes, numbers, links, etc.) to the Google Classroom (look in the Stream) and will put it in the A period Google Hangout a minute or two before the meeting begins.
    • In this meeting, we will talk about your Eggsperiment Data Transformation (the bar graph) and get ready to tackle Assignment W1.L4.A1, which is described below.
  2. Complete Assignment W1.L4.A1 (Exploration #1).
    • This assignment requires you to use the Exploration #1 template in our Google Classroom and make a list of all the ‘seasonings’ (dried herbs and spices) found in your house/home. Available on Thursday morning.

Oh, and one more thing: Expect total chaos this week; everything orderly will then be an unexpected surprise. 😉

Posted in Grade 6, Remote Learning, Weekly Overview | 1 Comment

A sense of scale: Beyond the Earth’s paper-thin atmosphere

FIGURE 1. If the Earth was an apple, the apple’s skin might be a good scaled approximation of the thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere. [Image source: Wikipedia Commons]

In yesterday’s blog entry, we tried to come to grips with the actual thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere. To do so, we drew the first four layers of the atmosphere to scale on a single piece of A3-sized paper oriented in the portrait direction. In this model, it was determined that, if the first four layers of the Earth’s atmosphere could indeed fit within a span of 42 cm, then the size of the Earth in this model would need a radius of 53.5 meters. To help put these dimensions into further perspective, imagine a normal-sized apple: the ‘flesh’ of the apple is the Earth, while the apple’s thin skin approximates the thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere!

We then asked four questions of our Earth/Atmosphere model. Each of these questions, and their answers, are presented below.

Click anywhere on the image to enlarge it.

If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Moon?

  • Answer: 3.23 km from the TASIS campus, which would actually put us into Lago di Lugano if we were to walk 3.23 km from TASIS in a southeastern direction towards Campione d’Italia. [In terms of actual distance, the real Moon is somewhere around 384,400 km away from the real Earth.]

Click anywhere on the image to enlarge it.

If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Mars?

  • Answer: 458.64 km from the TASIS campus, which would actually put us into central Italy if we were to walk458.64 km from TASIS in a southeastern direction towards Roma/Rome, Italy. [In terms of actual distance, the real Mars is somewhere around 54,600,000 km away from the real Earth.]

Click anywhere on the image to enlarge it.

If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Sun?

  • Answer: 1’256.64 km from the TASIS campus, which would actually put us into Lago di Lugano if we were to walk1’256.64 km from TASIS in a southeastern direction towards Athens, Greece. [In terms of actual distance, the real Sun is somewhere around 149,600,000 km away from the real Earth.]

If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of Alpha Centauri–the nearest star which is not our Sun?

  • Answer: 336,000,000 km from the TASIS campus, which would actually put us…well, that’s a bit more difficult to say. Since the Earth is about 40,000 km in circumference at its thickest point, the equator, one would need to make about 8’400 complete laps around the Earth’s equator in order to travel 336,000,000 km!!! So, we can’t really put a ‘dot’ on the Earth to represent the distance needed by the conditions or our model. [In terms of actual distance, the real Alpha Centauri is somewhere around 40 trillion km (40,000,000,000,000) away from the real Earth.]
Posted in Middle School Science, Space Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A sense of scale: The Earth’s atmosphere on a piece of paper

FIGURE 1. First four layers of the Earth’s atmosphere draw onto a single piece of A3-sized paper.

Large/long distances are difficult to experience, let alone imagine. This past week in our middle school science class we tried to develop a sense of scale as it relates to the thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere, a topic that we have been recently studying.

Starting with an A3-sized piece of paper oriented in the portrait format (w: 29.5 cm, h: 42 cm), my students were asked to represent the first four layers of the atmosphere to scale on the paper. On this paper, the scale was 42 cm = 500 km. To put this differently,  every 1 cm = 11.9 km or, in the reverse, every 1 km = 0.084 cm. An example of such a scale map can be seen at right in Figure 1. In Figure 1, a size D Duracell (battery) cell is included to help those unfamiliar with A3-sized European paper to better imagine the actual size of it.

One reality that rather quickly stands out in this representation of the Earth’s atmosphere is just how ‘thin’ the first layer of the atmosphere (the troposphere) actually is when compared to the other layers. This scale map also shows that the next thickest layer is the mesophere, which is followed by the stratosphere, and then the thermosphere. The fifth and outermost layer of the atmosphere, the exosphere, is not represented on this map. But about the size of the Earth? If this scale were actually true, that is, if the thickness of the first four layers of the Earth’s atmosphere were in fact equal to the height of an A3-sized piece of paper, then how large would the radius of the Earth need to be in order to, as we often say in English, be true to scale?

FIGURE 2. Our 4-layer atmosphere is visible on the edge of the nearest outdoor basketball court (A3 paper), but these two courts are still not enough to constitute a properly scaled radius of our Earth.

Is the width of an outdoor basketball court (approx. 13 m) enough?
No, it’s not enough.

How about the the width of two outdoor basketball courts (approx. 26 m)? Would that be enough?
Not yet.

Figure 2 shows our piece of A3 paper laying on the near edge of two rectangular basketball courts on the TASIS campus, just outside of our science building. The combined width of these courts–from the bottom to the top of the image–is approximately 26 meters, but in order to be true to scale, the radius of our model Earth would require us to have two additional outdoor basketball courts stacked beyond the existing courts. Only with FOUR courts could we have an Earth with the radius it needs to be true to our A3-sized paper scale. A four-court Earth would have a radius of approximately 53.5 meters–but remember, the radius is half of the diameter, so in actuality we would need EIGHT basketball courts if we wanted to estimate the ‘true’ size of the (entire) Earth in this scale model!

An Earth the with diameter of EIGHT basketball court-widths, which has a four-layered atmosphere that is the size of an A3-sized piece of paper. Now that is a useful sense of scale…

In tomorrow’s blog, we will expand our A3-sized paper model in an attempt to answer the following questions:

  • If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Moon?
  • If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Mars?
  • If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of the Sun?
  • If our model Earth here on the TASIS campus has a radius of 53.5 m, how many kilometers (km) would we have to travel from campus in order to arrive on the surface of Alpha Centauri (the nearest star which is not our Sun)?
Posted in Earth Science, Grade 7, Middle School Science, Space Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment