“Who does that? Who throws a refrigerator in the ocean?”


Exasperated faces. Grumbles and gasps. “Really? There are 167,000 tires in a lake. I mean really! Who throws a tire in a lake?” Dani, Emerson, and Vanessa went back and forth, calling out statistics as they read further. “Don’t they know there are animals in there?”

Our classroom was quickly becoming episode of “Really!?! With Seth and Amy” on Weekend Update.

Our extended expedition kick-off had second graders up in arms as they built background knowledge about the causes of anthropogenic water pollution.

“He thought he through his flip flop in the trash, but he missed it.  When it rained, it went down the storm drain.  And then it went all the way out to the ocean!” Michael and Giovanni’s jaws dropped as they watched a video about stormwater pollution. IMG_1219 IMG_1222 IMG_1226
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Working in small groups, students watched videos and read articles to learn about acid rain, stormwater pollution, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and oil spills. Over three days, they visited different stations and documented their new learning in pictures and notes.

At the end of the three days, they reflected on their new learning. True to themselves, they steered the conversation toward action.

“We should pick up trash out of the drains!”

“We should pick up trash even if it’s not ours!”

” We could make signs that say, ‘Pick up the trash! It kills animals!'”

They were ready. “Before we can become water advocates, we have to learn more about water, itself.  We have to become water experts. What can we do to learn more?” I asked.

“We should talk to experts who study water!”

“We can read books and watch videos and do research.”

“In writing we are learning that scientists do experiments to learn. We should do water experiments, too.”

And so this past week we started doing water experiments. First, students tried to melt an ice cube to see how adding heat makes it turn from a solid to a liquid.

They designed their own experiments.


“We could put it by the window so the sun could heat it.”

“We could find a heater and put it on the heater.”

“We could put it under warm water.”

“Maybe a lamp would make it melt.”

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At the end of the experiment, students drew conclusions about solids and liquids. Next week they will experiment with evaporation and condensation, learning about water as a gas.


3 thoughts on ““Who does that? Who throws a refrigerator in the ocean?”

  1. Second grade stewards, indeed! It’s clear that the student-driven investigation and exploration encouraged in this classroom provide so many opportunities for rich, authentic, and meaningful learning experiences that these students will never forget 🙂

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