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The middle grades students of BCJA were visited by Georgia State University’s Bio-Bus on Thursday, March 5. The GSU graduate students presented a module entitled, ‘Star Wars Geoscience.’ The students were asked to employ their critical thinking skills to determine if several elements of the movie ‘Star Wars’ were fantasy or reality. For example, the giant tauntaun that Luke Skywalker rode in the movie is said to be an herbivore. However, his 8 feet frame did not support his diet.
The students compared several planets from our solar system to those of Star Wars. The “gas giants” (Jupiter and Saturn) which are mostly hydrogen and helium were compared to Bespin. Tatooine was compared to Mars because they are both desert planets. The terrestrial planets are those closest to the sun such as Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. In the movie they were Alderaan and Hoth. When discussing the moon Yavin 4 from Star Wars, the students learned that planet Earth is also a moon because it orbits the sun.
Activities were incorporated to simulate hydrothermal vents and ocean current circulation as well as to create a landform. They used a large beaker of cold water and a small Erlenmeyer flask of hot colored water to simulate an ‘underwater volcano’. The small flask was placed inside the large beaker and immediately the colored hot water started to flow (rise) to the top of the large beaker. Ocean circulations were mimiced using milk, dish soap, sponges, a foil pan, plastic continent cut-outs, and food coloring. The sponges topped with the continent cut-outs were placed in the pan. Whole milk was poured to cover the bottom of the pan. At this point, the students dropped food coloring into the milk and dish soap into the food color. The reaction of this mixture (food coloring and dish soap) created the illusion of ocean currents. In the final lab, the middle schoolers used dry diatomaceous earth and a squeeze bottle filled with water to create a canyon.
The students gained a large amount of knowledge by working with the mentors from GSU. They are looking forward to them returning next year.