Local Phenomena Mystery and Othello 6th Graders

November 9, 2021

Nov 9, 2021 | ESD 123

Local Phenomena Mystery and 6th Graders

On a chilly November afternoon, 6th Grade students walk in to in Mrs. Fought’s science class with a new mystery to figure out! Mrs. Fought starts by telling a story of some mysterious bones that have been discovered in Kennewick, Washington, just a hour away from their classroom.

6th Graders start creating the driving questions for the unit

Hillary Fought is a teacher that participated in a Clime Time funded professional development 2 years about Earth Systems and the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site. During this training Lorianne Donovan, Regional Science Coordinator guided teachers through a series of 4 professional development opportunities. Throughout the series teachers figured out the Earth systems that may have contributed to the deposition of the mammoth bones in the Tri-Cities. As part of the Clime Time project, teachers were then challenged to design lessons for their classrooms that leverage the use of local phenomena to figure out more about our changing Earth in the past and then to look forward at the Climate Changes that are changing our Earth now.

Now, 2 years later after developing her unit, Mrs. Fought is ready to engage students in the same mystery that she herself experienced and invited Lorianne to come a see what happens. Students are bustling around, getting notebooks, and little sad to see the end of their space unit but see all the new images around the room that hint to the new phenomena they will dive into. During this anchoring phenomena lesson, Mrs. Fought tells the story of how a farmer selling top soil to a customer started the whole discovery! The customer called to complain about the truck load of “bones” she received instead of top soil!” ” Bones? Bones? hummmm…….”. That is where the mystery of Mc Bones starts. Students then begin digging into some evidence to start making predictions and creating driving questions. Why did McBones settle here, in our area and how did he/she die?

Mrs. Fought and student discuss the evidence

After looking at geological maps, mammoth photos, photos of the actual McBones protruding from the Earth and more, students started discussing their initial ideas, and started an initial model. As a class they started making this thinking public…. initial ideas that surfaced on this first day included, starvation, falling off the cliff at the site, volcanoes, and being hunted by the people of the time for food. Each student shared their thinking and supported with evidence. On student even said, ” I think a volcano erupted and buried Mc Bones, because if you look at his geological map it show volcanic rock in the area. But my evidence is not strong yet, I need to know more.” And more is where this class will go in the coming week to figure out the Mystery of Mc Bones!

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