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Third grade students learn about Earth systems

Third grade teachers across the Hampton City Schools division implemented the Elementary GLOBE Earth System Module to introduce their budding young scientists to the different spheres that make up the Earth system. GLOBE, or Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, is an international program developed to build understanding of Earth systems and the environment. Teachers used the storybook All About Earth: Our World on Stage and two hands-on investigations to introduce students to the atmosphere (air), pedosphere (soil), hydrosphere (water), and biosphere (living things) they will be learning about in science over the course of the year. 

Mary T. Christian Elementary School teacher Cameka Wright said, “This module had a huge impact on the students as it allowed them to make connections between what we learn in class and the world outside of it.”

Teachers received training on the GLOBE Earth System Module on August 27. As a part of the training, teachers participated in the two hands-on investigations they later implemented with their students: Earth System in a Bottle and We’re All Connected: Earth System Interactions. They were also introduced to the GLOBE storybook students utilized during independent work rotations in English/language arts to help with building content and vocabulary development. 

Phenix PreK-8 School teacher Zandra Butts shared, “The story gave them background information that they were able to apply to learning.”  

Students created Earth systems using 2-liter soda bottles. They added the needed components of soil, water, air, and radish seeds for their Earth system. Some students chose to alter a variable by using green rather than clear plastic bottles. Others experimented with the amount of light their Earth system received. Students made and recorded observations of their Earth systems over several weeks. 

Phillips Elementary School teacher Erica Butler said, “The students loved the hands-on learning and watching the daily changes in their Earth system.” 

Christen Rouson of Forrest Elementary School shared, “The students were excited to work together to not only get their hands dirty, but to build their own ecosystems. It gave them a better understanding of how the different components work together.”  

Students also made observations on the school grounds and made connections between the different Earth spheres as a part of the We’re All Connected: Earth System Interactions activity.  

Forrest teacher Veronica Parker agreed with her colleague Rouson saying, “The students enjoyed being outside and seeing how science is everywhere around them.” One of her students pointed out, “All the systems work together; not one is more important than another. They have to work together." 

The Elementary GLOBE program is supported by NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation. Third grade teachers will be learning about soil using the GLOBE Soils Module in the spring.