Killip Elementary School's 5th grade students, with their teachers Jillian Hernandez, Tracy Blahut, and Katie Butterfield, traveled to Lake Mary to make connections between the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere they have been studying.
The students were divided into four groups and rotated to the four "sphere" stations with experts at each of the spheres. Three of the experts also participated last year, showing great dedication to this educational endeavor!
Erin Young, the Water Resources Manager for the City of Flagstaff, was the hydrology expert, linking the hydrosphere with the geosphere through observations between Lower and Upper Lake Mary. The students also discussed how earth materials control water flow to lakes and wells.
Below, Clare Stielstra, a hydrogeologist with Montgomery and Associates in Tucson, represented the biosphere, helping students make solid connections between organisms and the air, water, and land that supports them and us. Student questions had her eliciting information from the students on how Earth is different than Mars.
Meteorologist Lee Born, below, represented the atmosphere, and helped students understand connections between atmospheric phenomena including natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, and the changes they can create on earth that impact the other spheres. Students took good notes as they will be writing reports on natural disasters as a culminating part of this unit.
Vaden Aldridge, a recent graduate of NAU with a MS in geology, represented the geosphere. Vaden led lively discussions on how the geosphere impacted the other spheres and vice versa. Students had to think critically about when the biosphere becomes geosphere as fossils are formed, or as fossil fuels are buried, and then unearthed and burned becoming atmosphere!
The students understanding of how the spheres interacted truly developed as they moved through the four stations. Many thanks to our local experts for helping our Flagstaff students make connections!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator