Michelle Savoy’s third-grade class at The Brandeis School in Lawrence learned about the difference between vertebrate (with a backbone) and invertebrate (no backbone) as well as the significance of backbones and spinal columns in animals on Nov. 5. Students created two identical organisms from play dough, inserting pipe cleaners in only one of them to represent the backbone.
The students then stacked Jenga blocks on top of their creations and experienced first- hand that those with the spinal columns were able to support more weight and were stronger than the play dough creatures without backbones. Students used the results from their experiments to write an analysis that explained their observations.
Also, as part the Brandeis’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum, fourth-graders in Donna Weiss’s class learned about food chains — a series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food — by building paper food chains.