This week, fourth grade began their first Zoology block, and the class was enthusiastic to learn about and share their knowledge of animals. For several weeks now, Ms. Holtz heard whisperings of anticipation among the class. Some students were even talking about which animal they want to study for their animal diorama and report that they have seen from previous fourth graders! Look forward to seeing a project similar to those done in the past after the second Zoology block in the spring.
This zoology block is highly anticipated by the children because it is indeed a new step for the fourth grader; it is their first formal science block. While it is certainly not intended to be an adult science class, it is also not simply animal stories as their fables were in second grade.
In this block, the students will learn and talk about what makes each animal unique and different from others; what is each animal’s specialization? For example, the octopus has the special talent of changing colors to camouflage itself, squirt ink, as well as the ability to propel itself through the water as it exhales through it’s gills. The octopus, is, after all, sort of like a floating head. It’s eight legs are more like our human eyes and ears than they are like our legs – they perceive and gather information about the environment.
The fourth grade will explore the qualities of many different animals including rodents, carnivores and ungulates, comparing them to each other and to the human being. Through their studies, they will find that the human being possess qualities similar to all three! Take the fore paw of a mole, for example, and compare it to our human hand. In comparison, our human hand is a lousy shovel. At first, it may seem that the human hand can’t do anything special, but the hand can use a shovel, or make wings for an airplane (bird), or propellers for a ship (fins). The human hand is special because of the mind behind it. In some ways, it is less perfect and capable than the corresponding limb of an animal, but the human hand is more flexible and versatile, with endless possibilities.