The Blanding's Turtle Project

This year, fourth graders across the district will become stewards of their environment.  We are taking part in a project to help save the threatened population of Blanding's Turtles in Concord. A threatened species is a native species that is at risk of becoming endangered in the near future. We will have two hatchling turtles in our classroom from September-June.  Part of our job will be to raise the Blanding’s Turtles to prepare them to live independently in their natural environment.  


In this unit, students learn about what an ecosystem is, how living things in an ecosystem get energy, and how ecosystems can change. Students explore the interaction of living things and discuss food chains and webs.   Additionally, students create an ecosystem in the classroom with anoles and visit the Town Forest twice for soil testing and pond exploration.   


This unit guides students to think like mechanical engineers as they use their knowledge of wind to design and create machines that can be used to capture wind energy. The storybook "Leif Catches the Wind" reinforces the science concept of air as wind, and introduces the field of mechanical engineering. The wind turbines found in Leif's home country, Denmark, are used as an example of a renewable energy source and a machine designed in part by mechanical engineers.

Students will look critically at several common machines (mechanical pencils, egg beaters, rolling pins) and diagram how the parts of the machine interact with other parts of the machine and allow the object to function.

Students will then use their mechanical engineering skills to explore different materials and shapes conducive to catching the wind, first by designing sails for small boats and finally for designing windmill blades.