Have you ever wondered where a grain of sand comes from or what types of organisms are found under the surface of a sandy beach? Mrs. Juli Peterson's 4/5 multi-grade class has been exploring these and several other questions for the past month. The class has been using a new science program to the Catholic Academy of the Holy Family called the GEMS program. This program is a very hands-on type of science where students do the investigating and draw conclusions based on materials they are working with.
''On Sandy Shores'' is the name of the activity being used in the 4/5 classroom. Students began by talking with each other about what their ideas when they hear the words beach, sand and ocean. Then they explored a bucket of sand that had several items commonly found on the beach. The kit came with samples of sand from six different beaches along the California coast. Each sample was examined for the shape of individual sand grains, colors and whether or not the sand was magnetic. The class discovered that sand from Ocean Beach in central California was very magnetic.
The class concluded the study of sand and beaches by creating a small model of a beach complete with sand, beach wrack and organisms found above and below the sand. Groups within the class gave presentations about their section of the beach and the model was on display for the other classes in the school to see and learn from their hard work. At the end of the study, students learned about oil spills and how they affect the environment and life cycle of beach organisms. Students in Mrs. Peterson's class hope to observe first-hand the way organisms live on the beach in the spring.