Today the kids in my class were making a model of groundwater. They actually sparked the idea- I wasn't planning to do it- but they asked why there was clay in the ground. To them, clay is something you play with- not something you'd dig up underground.
I realized I had some clay leftover from our sink/float exercise, so I pressed it into the middle of a clear plastic cup, and then poured water on the top so they could see what happened. They kept asking questions, and- well, I realized that we had almost all of the materials to make a model of the underground layers and aquifers. So the students read the book an extra time and used the pictures to make a plan of their model. After they built it, I tried to "pollute" it with some water and food coloring, but the aquifers stayed pretty clean.
While we were building, one of the kids commented that something smelled funny. I explained that it was probably the soil I'd picked up from the store. "No," they told me, "I think it's the clay." One boy sniffed it and told me, "It smells like something... not school" and I didn't know what he meant until the next boy said, "It smells like," (in a whisper) "weed."
Wonderful. Glad to know our 8 year old kids recognize the smell of marijuana.
Anyway, I seem to have more teaching followers lately. I'm not great at every aspect of teaching, but I ROCKED the science lessons for the Water unit this summer. It's about a week's worth of awesome, thanks in large part to a Project WET workshop I attended, and if anyone's interested, I'll share. All of the lessons were pretty easy to implement, very hands-on, lasted 30 minutes or less, and while they might have cost a little at first- most of the materials could be used again from year to year.
A highlight I'm definitely interested in sharing is an experiment in mixing oil and water, and then tying it to the recent oil disaster in the Gulf. Let me know if you'd like me to post it!