Climate Research Expo!
By Nia Lutch, Grade 4 Teacher
Something that we love to do as teachers is to design curriculum that integrates a study across subject areas. One of these such units that my Grade 4/5 teachers and I have designed is the climate study research project.
We launch the unit by learning about the difference between climate and weather, which ultimately leads to the culminating project of a model of a house that is designed for a particular climate type. Along with the house, students write a 5 paragraph research essay with the thesis statement that climate type affects many aspects of lifestyle.
Before they get to this project, a lot of work has to be done! In theme, students had a science unit to learn about the science behind weather and climate. Topics covered included the phases of matter, air masses, convection currents, precipitation trends, how to find air masses, and what happens when air masses meet. We talked about the different climate types and how some aspects of lifestyle, such as clothing and food, are related to climate type. We studied some houses around the world and discussed how the environments in which people live influence their decisions about how to build shelters.
In writing, we looked at thesis statements and how to write a paragraph. This led to many three paragraph persuasive essays with clear, articulate thesis statements. Our study of three paragraph essays ultimately led to the five paragraph research essay exploring how climate affects the lifestyle in a specific geographic location (chosen by the student).
Simultaneously, in reading, we studied non-fiction text features, which launched our research for the 5 paragraph essay. While all of this research and writing was happening, students were designing and then building a shelter for their specific location and climate type. These houses were mainly built out of recycled materials. All of this work led to our world climate exhibition, during which students proudly showcased their houses and essays.
By the end of this unit, each child became an expert on his or location and how climate type is related to features of a house. This project is a fun and all-consuming time in the Innovators classroom! The students show real knowledge and enthusiasm for their house location, and the room is abuzz with house building and creativity! As teachers, it is rewarding to see the kids making connections across subject areas and becoming experts on a topic.