By Amanda Moses
Last week, while everyone was frantic about winter storm Jonas, the first graders at PS 346 were learning how integral snow is to water’s life cycle in the Spring Creek’s Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Aquaponics Lab. For some, especially in New York City, snow may seem like nothing more than a slippery hassle, but Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman will be working with her students in the upcoming weeks to teach them the importance of water.
“Let’s go on an adventure to understand more about water,” said Roytamn to the group of six and seven year olds sitting on her multicolored carpet within the Aquaponics Lab. Science is not just about calculations and
theories; it’s about using your imagination to understand the world around us. Always finding ways to integrate literature with science, Roytamn read to the students, “The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over.”
Terms such as precipitation, runoff, evaporation, condensation, plate tectonics and others may seem too complicated for a six-year-old to understand. However, Roytman uses examples within the book “The Magic School Bus” as well as a simple experiment of observing an ice cube melting to show the water cycle in action.
The water cycle is the never ending movement of water, from liquid to vapor to ice and then back again. Roytman started the conversation about the water cycle by showing students how ice melts into liquid under warm temperatures. “As I hold the ice over a cup, do you see what is happening,” she asked the students. Many pointed and exclaimed, “It’s melting.” Roytman proceeded to explain that each student will each receive a cup, ice cube (with a drop of food coloring enabling the students to clearly observe the transformation) and tongs. Like the characters in the book “The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over,” the students were able to feel and experiment the with ice in the classroom.
The ice represents snowmelt, which is runoff produced by melting snow. Roytman said that if the cup is left under warm conditions, the water will slowly evaporate into water vapor (gas). Then condensation transforms the water vapor into microscopic water drops in our atmosphere. Precipitation then causes the water to fall back to earth, and the process will start all over again.
“The Aquaponics Lab is unlike any other science class for the students at PS 346,” says longtime science teacher Ms. Barricelli. She thinks that along with Roytman’s amazing teaching, the Aquaponics Lab is by far the children’s favorite. The magic of Roytman is that she doesn’t dictate lessons to her students in a monotone voice with just a slew of charts and tables. She takes into account their age, interests and the curriculum, creating a whole new world of scientific possibilities for the students.
Photos: Amanda Moses