SPREE teachers had such a great time the last 4 Wednesday afternoons for SPREE After School! We learned a lot together with our students through our many experiments, crafts, and critter crawls!
Our first week, which was the last week of October, had a spooky atmosphere. We went down to critter crawl where we pulled out many critters with eerie lifestyles. Crawdads, which are one of our favorite river dwellers, are actually scavengers. That means they eat dead things! We caught probably 10-15 crawdads together this day! We also learned about the unhinged jaws of dragonfly larvae, and the tearing mouth parts of mayfly larvae!
After critter crawl, we had an engineering craft to help us thaw out. We made spider launchers! First we made spiders from pipe cleaners, and then using rubber bands and recycled materials, we constructed a web-like launcher. SPREE teachers were impressed because all our students’ launchers worked better than teachers!
The second week of AfterSchool was the first week of November. With daylight savings coming to an end, we knew that it would be a race against the sun to get out to critter crawl. Luckily, our AfterSchool crew are tough kiddos and don’t seem to be impacted by darkness or cold water! We started the afternoon with an experiment. SPREE teachers have been eating a lot of apples lately, and we noticed that if you take too long to eat an apple, the apple turns brown. From some research, we learned about oxidation that occurs when an enzyme in the apple is exposed to oxygen. Our hypothesis was that the skin of an apple protects it, and prevents it from turning brown.
Well, could anything else also help protect the apple? This was the question we wanted to answer for our experiment. We cut up both red and green apples and placed pieces of each apple into different liquids: water, soda, lemon juice, vinegar, and milk. We also used a control and put a piece of each apple in no liquid- just out in the air. After making a hypothesis, we let the experiment sit while we went out to catch critters in the River!
After a successful critter crawl where we caught crawdads, scuds, sowbugs, snails, and more… we checked in on our experiment. We decided to let it sit a bit longer… so we did a craft!
Our craft this week was making magic leaf rubbings. Once you know the secret, you learn it isn't really magic, but by using white crayons, watercolors, and leaves, we were able to make a work of art from nature!
So what was the result of our experiment? We concluded that lemon juice kept both red and green apples from oxidizing best, or turning brown in the air.
With each passing week, the sun seems to get lower in the sky, and the challenge to beat the sunset to critter crawl becomes our goal! This week, our participants were ready for the challenge. Immediately after arriving, we put our water shoes on and headed down to the River. For the first time, we also wore headlamps at the water- we wanted to see if headlamps would allow us to brave the setting sun and continue to critter crawl after dark. They worked pretty well, but the cold water did us in before the darkness.
We came inside to warm up, and do some experiments and crafts. Our experiments this week all focused around fire and water. We began with the fire triangle; fire cannot exist without three things: heat, fuel, and oxygen. We did some experiments using a candle to better understand each aspect of the fire triangle. We then moved onto another experiment using fire and water. We were actually able to move water from a plate into a jar using only a candle! How do you think this works?
Finally, we wrapped up our day making Cartesian divers! These crafts make a great example of buoyancy and density. We created floating “divers” with straws and paper clips, and then put them into a bottle of water. When the bottle sits, the divers float on top of the water, and when the bottle is squeezed, the divers sink down! It is a pretty simple, but awesome craft to make.
Our final week of SPREE After School will be on November 18. We cannot wait to unpack some learning then!
In our final week of the program, the kiddos took advantage of the warmer weather, and spent a little extra time down by the river! But the water was still cold- so boots were a must! As the sun was setting, we used headlamps to find the sneaky critters hiding in the evening shadows, which made us feel even more like scientists in the field! We then warmed up inside by making colorful marble turkeys using food coloring, shaving cream, paper, and some other common household items.
To get in the mood for thanksgiving next week, SPREE after schoolers also learned about the two turkey species that live in the Colorado Front Range!