Block 2 – Where We Are In Place and time

We finished our learning journey in Block 2 right before Thanksgiving. Even though we say “finish,” we’re never really actually finished with discovering new things about learning topics. Sometimes, we find a natural ending point and then move on. That’s what we did with this block.

One of Mrs. Baldwin’s favorite things to do with us is ask us what we learned during each block. We think about the new things we learned, how we connected those things to what we already know, and even what we learned about LEARNING!

In Block 2, we focused on the statement, “The way people live and work change over time.” When we first thought about that sentence, we immediately began discussing technology and all the ways it has made life different. We have grown up with different technologies that Mrs. Baldwin didn’t have when she was a kid, like cell phones, the internet, and even cars with automatic locks and windows! That conversation helped us think about different types of transportation and how they have changed over time.

First, we had to define “transportation.” We know that the word includes cars and trains, but we learned that it is really about some way of moving people, animals, or “goods” from one place to another. We created a list of different types of transportation that we already know, and then we did some research about transportation from the past. We spent a lot of time learning about older transportation that people made with their own hands – canoes and wagons were some of the first kinds!

As we moved forward, we asked why transportation changed. We know that inventions made transportation easier to go farther and farther, and as more people lived in certain areas, there were needs for transportation vehicles that could move more goods and more people. Some of us know that there are trains in Denver called the “Light Rail,” and they were built to help move people around. Buses do that, too. If more people are on trains or buses, then there are fewer cars on the roads. That means less pollution, too.

When we learned about older kinds of transportation, we learned about water power, steam power, gas power, and electric power. We visited the Forney Museum of Transportation (our blog post about that visit here).

We wondered if transportation looks different in different areas? For instance, would a person who lives in a desert need different transportation than someone who lives on snow and ice? Or how about someone who lives in an area that is completely surrounded by water? We decided to do a little research, but then got into teams and built our own ideas. Some were vehicles that could skim the surface of sand. Others were snow vehicles with a “digger” on the front to move quickly through snow. The water vehicles were powered only by water, so that they wouldn’t pollute the air or the water. (photos in the Storify link below)

After we built those vehicles, we also thought about mass transportation for those same areas. You can’t just make the mass transportation vehicles – you also have to create stations for the people to FIND the mass transportation! We knew that because some of us have been to stations for the Denver Light Rail. This created some new questions for us. How could we build a station that floats on water but is always in the same place? That water team thought about using anchors and buoys to build their station. The snow station team designed a base that was like a giant snowshoe. They also thought that maybe they should include heaters, doors, and windows, because they don’t want people who are waiting to be too cold! That helped the desert team think that they should have air conditioning in their station AND inside their mass transportation vehicle.

We had so many questions during this block! As we studied all the different types of powering vehicles, we kept hearing “internal combustion engines.” We wondered what that meant. We found a lot of videos that helped explain the 4 stage process of an internal combustion engine: Intake, Combustion, Power, Exhaust. It was so cool to see how that makes an engine go!

During the block, we tweeted off and on about what we were learning. You can read about it in our Storify about “Transportation:”

As we thought back about our learning, we noticed we had to do a lot of exploration and research. Some of us read books about transportation, and we all watched a lot of videos that helped explain these ideas in ways that we could understand. We also noticed that we learned better when we were able to build our ideas. We used LEGO and Duplo blocks a LOT in this block!

We wonder what YOU think about transportation? Do you like to build to learn? What other types of learning are best for you?