Kids, water and mud just seem to naturally attract each
other and that explains the success each year of the adobe brick
building activity at Naaba Ani Elementary.
the past 11 years the earth science/materials science unit which
includes math, social studies, language arts and art has been eagerly
anticipated by the annual group of fourth and fifth graders in the
school's gifted program.
hands-on, minds-on unit is called Adobe Rock N Roll. It combines
the ancient art of making adobe with the modern world of materials
science. Materials science is the study of solid matter, both organic
spring the unit received more exposure when it was published in
workbook form by Wards, a leading supplier of science education
materials, so kids throughout the U.S., can now experience adobe
kids who did this the first time are now 21," said teacher
Chris Carter. She continues to tweak and refine the activities.
the years, too, the milk cartons used to mold the adobe bricks were
changed to shoe boxes and are now wooden forms, thanks to teachers
Bill Albee and Dale Latta.
along with Bloomfield teachers Kathy Price and Albee developed the
initial idea for the elementary grade classroom when they took a
seminar at Los Alamos Laboratories.
had to come up with an original idea to teach earth science. We
came up with this and implemented it in our classrooms," she
you can get a child excited about learning, I feel you have effective
teaching, because they don't just look at it or read about it, they
do it. And it's fun to play in the mud," Carter said.
social studies, Spanish language, New Mexico history, architecture,
and soil information and study are also included in the unit.
week a group of fourth graders were working with their experimental
one-inch by one-inch mini adobe bricks, after studying the properties
of dirt and soil from their own backyards, the mountains and from
around the U.S.
developed their own recipes after discussing and recording in their
journals the properties a brick would need to withstand erosion
from wind and rain. Some had used fly ash as an ingredient, others
straw and some a more traditional blend of sand, silt and clay.
bricks were tested for hardness by scratching with a nail, by a
drop test and by weight-bearing capabilities. For the weight- bearing
capabilities, pupils put the brick on a piece of paper on the floor
and then stood on it to see if it would break.
didn't do so well on the drop test, because it busted. But that
was only after it was dropped several times," said Clay Payne,
was certain the brick with the cup of fly ash was the best.
held all of our group three people, all five of us at different
times, and our teacher!" he explained.
Pinto, 10, took a break from the durability test to explain what
she had learned.
the Anasazi used adobe to make their houses and pueblos and used
it for kivas. The dirt we used was mountain with clay. The dirt
from the mountains seems weaker. It's not as strong," she said.
used straw and dirt," said Elizabeth Foutz, 8, as her group
did the durability test.
think the Indians were very smart to use this building material,
because it's one of the most useful resources we have. We have so
much dirt. Adobe can do so much," she said.
pupils had learned about the history of adobe buildings around the
world from the Middle East to Peru. Also that more than half the
world's populations today live in shelters made of earth.
learning about working with numbers and how people lived a long
time ago. We're doing a lot of learning. I'm learning a lot from
this," said Victoria Burke, 9.
Adams, 9, was getting indications during the group discussion that
the traditional recipe was the best, "because it can go through
anything...erosion, scratching and dropping."
has the best test results," agreed Kylie Greider, 9.
Wednesday, each group thought they had the best bricks.
discussion and review of data, by Friday the pupils were using the
traditional recipe to make authentic adobe bricks and to do repair
work on a length of adobe wall that has been a part of their outdoor
laboratory for close to 11 years.
interest from Wards, a company which since 1862 has been the leading
supplier of science education materials for middle schools and high
schools, occurred about four years ago.
Farmington teacher Carla Ludwig, now of Yellowknife, Canada, was
on a plane sitting next to a representative from Wards.
conversation led to another and the rest is history.
started out for fourth and fifth graders, but the publishers were
interested in gearing it up from the fourth grade to middle school
science," said Kathy Price, the school district's math specialist.
added the advanced activities for sixth through ninth graders. The
workbook has cultural information and it's good science with hands-on
activities that kids can learn from. Everybody has dirt around here,"
unit meets National Science Education content standards and benchmarks.
The kit can be ordered online from www.wardsci.com.
teachers for the gifted program of fourth and fifth graders are
Carter, Glenace Stanley and Sammi Murray.