4th Grade Education

Experiment Boxes

Plainly described, Experiment Boxes are essentially a ‘lesson is a box’ – to deepen student understanding and awareness of where their water comes from. Experiment Boxes are an interactive set of discovery and engagement tools, water testing items, lessons and other customizable scientific experiments that are fun and inspiring ways to increase students’ environmental and water literacy. Each box came with an explanatory lesson plan for the teacher, all of the materials/supplies that are required to actually use the box, and associated questions for teachers to pose to their students. 

Following the Covid shutdown, extensive discussions with local teachers supported the redesign and conversion to virtual experiences. These Boxes were virtually distributed to 4th grades across Olivehurst for the 2021/2022 school year. The impact of Covid school closures on the Experiment Boxes and the switch from ‘in classroom’ to ‘virtual’ boxes is described in greater detail in the Experiment Box section. 

A total of three virtual boxes were created: The Wonderful Watershed, Water Filtration and the Marvelous Water Cycle.

A full list of contents/materials for the Experiment Boxes is available on the Experiment Boxes page.

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Literature Bundles

To reinforce key learning, each classroom was provided a set of water-and grade appropriate books (also considering English Learners and Students with Disabilities) to support the curriculum and Experiment Boxes. Emphasis on indigenous stewardship, connection to community and understanding of ecosystems were the basis for literature selection. 

A full list of the books in the literature bundle and a brief description of each book is provided on the Literature Bundle page. 

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Read Aloud’s

Pre-Covid, to reinforce key concepts and understandings, each classroom was provided a set of grade appropriate hard cover books, with a focus on water, that could support the curriculum and Experiment Boxes. These books were referred to as a “literature bundle”.

Access to libraries was limited due to either proximity, Covid-related closure or ease of access, so the Ella and Arboga teachers emphasized the need for continued access to literature that would support the 4th grade experience. In the absence of the physical book bundles supplied as part of the pre-Covid component, the virtual Read Alouds were created to provide additional curriculum-consistent support to the Experiment Boxes. A reading of one book in both Spanish and English was provided to engage students’ family, siblings and friends in the reading experience. The Read Alouds can be found here.

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Salmon Run

South Yuba River Citizens (SYRCL — pronounced ‘circle’) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “unite the community and restore the Yuba River.” SYRCL River Science Staff and river guides coordinated with the Olivehurst team to provide an educational and engaging day (9/19/19) which included a float trip down the lower Yuba, learning about the river’s ecosystem, efforts to protect salmon and observing restoration projects. See the Salmon Run materials.

The 300+ attending students received ‘wet shoes’ to wear on the Salmon Run, as well as personal water bottles to commemorate their experience. Students learned about First Nations and indigenous people’s education while on the river. Students, teachers and other community members are welcome to enjoy this hands-on learning opportunity connecting with local waterways. The students and the rest of the participants were bused to the river where their day began. For many children, it was their first experience being near the river and for all it was their first experience being on the river. 

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As an added element of the education, during what turned out to be the last pre-Covid classroom time, a graphic designer conducted a classroom segment of learning entitled “Journaling”. During this session, students were taught how to create their own journal to enhance both their educational and person learning.

The session concluded with each student creating their own journal. Experience and teacher observations indicate that, pre-Covid, this element would have been incorporated into the regular curriculum. However, it was deemed a “hit’ by both students and teachers and may provide a leverage point in the future to reintroduce the activity.

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