Collaborative Cycles

At the end of last week, we closed out our first case study on the science of water.  Charged with the challenge of becoming water experts before being water advocates, our second graders did four weeks of science experiments to learn more about solubility and states of matter.

This week, they extended their learning to the water cycle, learning more about how water changes and moves throughout the world. After reading books and watching videos about the water cycle, friends demonstrated their understanding by working collaboratively to create vignettes that models the water cycle.

The rules were simple: the models needed to show evaporation, condensation, and precipitation; and every friend needed a meaningful role.

Each group produced a unique interpretation of the water cycle–from the dance-inspired to the scientific, each group carefully crafted a vignette that modeled the water cycle. Excuse the blur; molecules move so quickly during the water cycle!


After, we debriefed the process of working collaboratively.  Group work is hard–even for adults–so we build in time to reflect on the process.

Friends were honest.

“I felt frustrated because I felt like no one would listen to my idea.”

“I felt frustrated because I felt like two friends–and I won’t say their names because that’s not kind–were playing instead of working and weren’t helping the team.”

“I liked it. I felt like I was having fun in this activity and I liked that I got to work with my friends.”

“What was good about this was that everyone had a role.”

“It was hard because my team wanted me to be the sea, but I really wanted to be water vapor. I didn’t want to budge.”

“We had to try it so many different times. We tried it and then it didn’t work so we made a little change. Then we tried it again. I think we tried it like 20 times before we really got it.”

“I felt like I really had to work hard and like I was having fun. I felt like I was working on something that I knew was really special and important so I did not want to let my team down.”

Armed with their knowledge of water and many collaborative experiences like these, our students will launch the second case study tomorrow.  As we focus on water pollution in the Anacostia River, the Potomac River, and in Rock Creek, second graders will work with experts and conduct fieldwork to deepen their understanding.  Stay tuned for permission slips and more!


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