Friday, 11 October 2013

Our Sand Dollar Inquiry Continued

During a class meeting, we had our sand dollars on the carpet. Ms. Tompkins asked the students “What do we know about sand dollars?”

 Z.H- we learned about it and it’s a sand dollar, it has a star on its back

D.K- they move slow and they dig in the ground. I wonder how they shut their mouths

E.M- the sand dollar is different sizes, the star is longer on one side

P.D- that they are purple and spiky when they are alive and have a white thing on the bottom

A.M- the sand dollar is still not alive

D.R- the hole on the bottom is his mouth

D.S- it is happy

D.D- they stick to stuff 

A.K- the water flows 

- I hear the noise

Ms. Tompkins- I wonder what the noise is, what do you think it could be (we all went quiet and shook it so we could hear the noise)

K.B- the food or it might be a tongue

A.L- sand inside it because I saw the sand on her (pointing to a student shaking the sand dollar)

V.A- I think they have water 

N.M- something that’s blue

E.M- I saw it’s throat, I wonder if its throat makes him eat

T.K- it’s sand

E.K- it’s sand

- they are bugs

C.C- waterfall

M.P- sand

- sand

A.B- I saw some white stuff in it

D.D.- maybe there is a baby dead inside it

P.D- I wonder if they turn into a purple sand dollar

We talked about how we could find out what is inside it. Ms. Tompkins suggested breaking it open. This suggestion was met with mixed reactions. Many students felt upset about breaking it, whereas others were curious to find out what was inside. After a discussion, we decided to break it open to find what was inside.
This is what we found: 

We counted and found there were 5 objects inside.

Ms. Tompkins- what do you think these are?
K.B- skin

E.M- eating little birds that are babies but he doesn’t like chickies

K.B- looks like butterflies

E.K- butterflies

T.K- birds

- part of his mouth 

P.D- looks like a trampoline 

A.B- maybe they are bones

D.D- why was it dead?

 Ms. Tompkins moved the the 5 pieces together to make a star shape.

D.R- it looks like like a star

D.K- it’s a star because it might have hanged on it

The students (and the teachers!) were curious to know what they were. We decided to research to get information about what the 5 pieces might be. We found a website that told us they were the sand dollar’s teeth! The fancy science name for the teeth is ‘Aristotle’s Lantern’.

The feeding strategy of sand dollars is fascinating. Their bodies are covered with tiny appendages (feet) to capture food particles small and large. Tiny cilia (extra small hairs) on the sand dollar’s spines sweep up small bits of food and tiny tube feet adeptly collect larger food pieces. Once food is caught the tiny appendages (feet) on the sand dollar work together to sweep food towards the mouth, which is located at the center of the five-petal flower pattern on bottom. The mouth has a five-toothed set-up called Aristotle’s lantern for chomping food. 
To help us understand how the sand dollar eats its food, the students pretended to be the feet of the sand dollar. We stood in a circle with the mouth being in the centre and moved the food from foot to foot and into the mouth. It was exciting to see how the food moved from one ‘foot/hand’ to the other. We repeated the words ‘Aristotle’s Lantern’ a few times to learn the special science words for the 5 teeth. 

We left the sand dollars and the middle pieces on the carpet for students to look at. We also ensured the magnifying glasses were close by.
A.L- it looks scary inside...lots of teeth in there
P.D- I see big holes

E.K- (pointing to the Smart board) sand dollar purple. E.K was very curious about how the sand dollar could be put back together. He found all the pieces and fitted them all back together.

A.L- I wonder how the sand dollar has the babies pop out of it

As a way to conclude our Sand Dollar Inquiry, we wanted a place for students to show what they learned about sand dollars. Ms. Tompkins brought a big brown paper and said she would like the students to show what they learned. We came up with the idea of drawing and writing about what we learned about. During Thinking and Learning Time students could add their knowledge and understanding of sand dollars to the paper. 

What was created was beautiful.

A.B and K.B drew sand dollars in houses. We asked them why they did this and they said it was a “sand dollar neighbourhood”. In the article “7 Swinging Sand Dollar Facts” ( ) we learned they live in groups, kind of like neighbourhoods. More students came to join in and loved the idea of a ‘Sand Dollar Neighbourhood’. Our paper wasn’t big enough for all the houses, so we had to get a new paper for the students to add to the artwork. 


Students also created their own representations of sand dollars during Thinking and Learning Time. 

Such amazing learning happened and many curriculum expectations were covered in Language, Science and Personal/Social Development. 

Here is a photo of our Sand Dollar Inquiry documentation wall in the classroom, celebrating the learning we have done.

What is exciting is that the students still have wonders about the sand dollars!

Do you have any wonders about the sand dollar?
Please feel free to share them with us.

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