Spotlight on Acadia Files (Katie Coppens), Plus Guest Post!
Today we're excited to spotlight The Acadia Files by Katie Coppens!
Read on for more about Katie, plus a guest post!
Meet Katie Coppens!
Katie Coppens lives in Maine with her husband and two children. She is an award winning middle school teacher and the author of The Acadia Files chapter book series, which helps children, ages 8 to 12, learn science concepts through the curiosity of the main character, Acadia Greene. Katie has also written a teacher’s guide for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) entitled Creative Writing in Science: Activities that Inspire and has a recurring column for NSTA’s Science Scope magazine entitled “Interdisciplinary Ideas”. Visit www.katiecoppens.com for more information on her publications.
Meet The Acadia Files!
Acadia Greene wants answers. What happened to the frogs she used to see at her favorite local pond? Why do leaves change color in the fall, and why don’t evergreen needles do the same? What is the water cycle, and what is transpiration? How do time zones work, and why does the sun set at different times in different places within a single zone? How do germs infect us? Acadia doesn’t mean to do science, but she has questions and her parents refuse to simply give her the answers. “Conduct an experiment,” they tell her. “Use the scientific method.” So Acadia makes hypotheses, designs experiments, analyzes data, and draws conclusions. Acadia does science.
The author, Katie Coppens writes a recurring column for NSTA's middle school magazine Science Scope on science and literacy called "The Integrated Classroom."
~ Guest Post ~
Each season has its own unique activities that engage children and help enhance their scientific understanding. Here are five ideas of what you can do with children of various ages during the fall:
- Track the amount of daylight over a few days, weeks, or months.
As we approach the winter solstice, there will be less sunlight each day. You can work together to record what time it gets dark and show this data on a line graph. For a more sophisticated graph, you can go online and find the exact time of sunrise and sunset in your town and record this on a double line graph. The area between the two dots on each day can be colored with yellow to represent the part of the day that is light and the area outside the dots can be colored in black to represent when it’s dark. You could also compare sunrise and/or sunset times for locations on different hemispheres or different parts of the same hemisphere.
This type of graph creates an opportunity to talk about Earth’s tilt. Chapter four of The Acadia Files: Book One, Summer Science explains how Earth’s 23.5-degree tilt leads to varying amounts of sunlight and why there are different seasons.
- Learning the difference between minerals and rocks
Before the leaves fall from the trees, go on a hike or find a nearby quarry that is open to the public and collect a variety of rocks and minerals. Certain minerals, like mica and quartz, are easy to identify and can help children understand that minerals are pure all the way through, whereas rocks are made from minerals that are melted or compressed together.
Chapter three of The Acadia Files: Book One, Summer Science explains the difference between a mineral and a rock. The learning is then expanded to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness through one of Acadia’s experiments that is easy for kids to replicate.
Night observations in the autumn can be some of the best of the year. It’s not too cold and as trees lose their leaves it opens up more of the night sky for viewing. While everyone loves to see shooting stars, most children don’t know that what they are watching streak across the night sky are actually meteors, about the size of a marble, burning up in the atmosphere. Shooting stars create an opportunity to talk about objects in space and about the importance of Earth’s atmosphere.
In chapter one of The Acadia Files: Book Four, Spring Science, Acadia learns about meteors and asteroids.
- Keeping a moon journal
While looking at the night sky, it’s fun to keep a moon journal to record the day-by-day differences in how the moon looks from Earth. Children can start with a drawing of a circle and shade in the part of the moon that is not illuminated. Starting with a circle is important because many children have misconceptions about the moon. The moon is orbiting around Earth and Earth is orbiting around the sun. The moon does not emit it’s own light, it simply reflects light from the sun. Both Earth and the moon are always half lit by the sun. As the moon orbits Earth, our perspective of the moon changes, sometimes we see the part of the moon that is fully lit by the sun and sometime we see the part of the moon that is partially lit by the sun and partially in the dark; this creates the various phases- such as a new moon, a waxing crescent moon, a full moon, and a waning gibbous moon. If the sky is clear, observing for a month will allow children to see all of the phases because this is how long it takes the moon to orbit Earth.
Chapter five of The Acadia Files: Book One, Summer Science includes Acadia’s drawings of the moon phases as Acadia learns about gravitational pull and how the moon impacts Earth’s tides.
- Gather leaves and needles to learn about deciduous and coniferous trees.
One of children’s favorite fall activities is collecting colorful leaves and drawing the shapes of leaves, tracing around them, or making leaf rubbings. Leaf rubbings can be done by putting the thicker veined side of the leaves facing up and placing paper over them, then rubbing over the paper with a crayon. This is a great opportunity to teach terms like lobes and teeth to help in identification and classification. Children can also categorize their specimens into two categories; coniferous or deciduous.
Chapter two of The Acadia Files: Book Two, Autumn Science explains what adaptations are and why some trees lose their leaves.
The Acadia Files
Author: Katie Coppens
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Publish Date: September 18th, 2018