Meet the 5th and 6th grade of Tierra Amarilla Elementary!

We’re very excited about our new River Classrooms this year, and one of these is in an entirely new place- Tierra Amarilla! There are many very important tributaries to the Rio Chama in this region, and we’re creating a new generation of scientists to study these.

Introducing ourselves and explaining River Classroom
Introducing ourselves and explaining River Classroom

Our students at Tierra Amarilla Elementary are in the 5th and 6th grades. They’re very smart, and they caught on to latitude/longitude and the use of a compass very quickly.

We began class by creating models of the globe. Students very easily grasped the concept of the Equator, dividing the northern and southern hemispheres.

Inflating a soon-to-be "globe"
Inflating a soon-to-be “globe”
Suspending the "world" from a string
Suspending the “world” from a string
Adding an "Equator" made from masking tape
Adding an “Equator” made from masking tape
Another globe in progress
Another globe in progress

After we had the Equator and a few lines of latitude in place, we added the Prime Meridian and other longitude lines. This concept is not as simple- the location of the Prime Meridian is completely arbitrary!

Showing off a globe
Showing off a globe
A long line of globes
A long line of globes

After we added a few longitude lines, we practiced finding locations using their latitude and longitude coordinates. This concept will be very important next time, as we will begin using GPS units to mark locations where we collect data.

After our students mastered the concepts of latitude and longitude, we spent the last of our time using compasses to tell directions and headings. Many of our students had used a compass before, but it’s always fun to practice.

Playing with a compass
Playing with a compass
Searching for a heading
Searching for a heading

After a few minutes of compass practice, we all headed outside, where we made a quick game of finding compass headings and walking a given number of paces. Everybody was smiling!

We can’t wait to see this fantastic group of students in a few weeks for our first trip to a local river!

Christy

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