This month in Grade 4, Mrs. Sarah Jackson’s students concluded their unit on the water cycle by collaborating to design water filtration systems. Students began this project by executing controlled experiments to determine what materials work best for filtering different types of contaminated water. “Students tested coffee filters, gravel, and screens,” Mrs. Jackson said. Groups of students were given a bottle of water mixed with contaminants such as tea leaves, cornstarch, or soil, and poured them through each filter type, measuring how long it took the water to filter through and how much contaminant was left in the water afterwards. After these experiments, students built, tested, and improved their own water filter designs based on what they learned. “They used their data from the experiments to inform their water filter designs,” Mrs. Jackson said. The project allowed students to combine scientific thinking with creative problem solving, and provided a sturdy foundation for innovation and risk-taking.
“This project is usually the highlight of our second block and it’s the last engineering design project fourth grade scientists complete before heading off to middle school,” Mrs. Jackson said. Some students even chose to do research outside of class and brought materials from home that would aid in their water filter design. “My favorite part of this project is seeing students iterate different prototypes of their designs,” Mrs. Jackson said. “This process is a wonderful chance for students to practice their scientific and innovation skills.”
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.