Sunday, May 13, 2012

Science Sunday - Sand

With Mother's Day this weekend, I decided to take our Science Sunday project very easy, and borrowed an idea from the dads over at to investigate sand.

The first thing we did was gather a few samples.  Montana being a land locked state, we don't have easy access to the ocean, but we do have quite a large number of mountain lakes, and there's always the local playground.

We ended up with a sample of lake sand, a sample of "borrowed" playground sand, and a sample of dirt for comparison, which we spread out in small amounts on pieces of dark and light paper (to make the dark and light bits easier to see)...

...and then took a peek at each one through our magnifier.

Lake Sand

Playground Sand

We noticed that both the playground sand, and the lake sand had large amounts of quartz type crystals, but the lake sand was made up of smaller, smoother, rounder pieces.

I asked the children how the bits of rock, that make up the sand might have gotten to the lake shore.  They thought they were probably washed out of the mountains, in the streams, into the lake, where they washed up on the beach.

So, we talked about what happens to rocks in rivers, how they tumble over and over again as they are moved by the water, and how this might help to break the pieces up, and smooth off the rough edges.

Next, we passed a magnet over each of the piles, and watched as tiny iron laden particles jumped out of the dirt and sand, drawn to the magnet.

Each of the piles had some, the most being in the dirt, and the least in the playground sand.  But, no matter which pile they came from, all the magnetic bits looked like those below.

Finally, we dumped a little of each of our samples into water, to see if any of the particles would float.

The play sand sunk straight to the bottom of the cup.  Nothing floated.

Most of the lake sand sank too, except for a few pieces of what appeared to be plant matter...

...which we saw in larger quantity with the dirt.

As a follow up, we watched a quick eHow video about how granite (something we have in abundance around here) is turned into sand through the process of weathering which, by the way, would make a great lead in to the rock cycle projects Phyllis at All Things Beautiful posted just the other day.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Linked with Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.

Science Sunday


amandajo said...

Cool, what type of magnifier is that? I cant seem to find anything like that. We have a digital microscope we like, but your magnifier is nice.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

OK, I am convinced now that I have to get your pocket microscope - the pictures you are taking are quite amazing. Great lesson too!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

amandajo - Mine is a pocket microscope from Learning Resource. They are under ten dollars on Amazon - and absolutely fantastic.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - They are so much fun!

Ticia said...

I have yet to go wrong with Learning Resource stuff.

I took a Continuing Education course that recommended getting samples of sand everywhere you went to compare the different content. She was suggesting gluing it to a card, so the floating and other parts would be out, but the visual observation....

Annette W. said...

Isn't sand under the microscope awesome!?

Phyllis said...

We did this project one year! It was so much fun. Every place we went one summer that had sand, we had to gather a little sample! Very fun!