All of my students in Grade 4 have witnessed the massive tsunami in Japan recently. They were all terrified watching the footage. We have passed the earth unit at school but that day I used my teaching time to discuss about the tsunami. I brought my students to a tsunami simulation built by NOAA. The tsunami simulation started with an earthquake under the sea, shaking the earth plates. It was then followed by the rapid depression of the sea level. Out of sudden, a huge wave, a tsunami, rushed to the beach, destroying everything on its path.
My students ran away as the tsunami approaching but none of them could escape the wave. They saw how the beach house was leveled by the tsunami. I am glad I could teach my students to be aware of what is going on around them or around the world and be able to understand it.
I have taught my 5th graders about the earthquake using this simulation last year. When the 9 Richeter scale earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, I brought my 4th graders to the earthquake simulation sim to 'feel' the tremor and destruction. During the simulation, my students learned how to survive an earthquake. They learned that "triangle of life" could save their lives during an earthquake.
This "Ask the Expert' idea came from professor Bill Shields from Department of Geology, Illinois State University. He thought that technology can bridge the time and distance barriers that prevent students to learn from experts all over the world. Imagine to be able to interact with experts from every corner of the world in a click away.
I believe it doesn't take a village but a whole world to raise the next generation. So the idea of 'Ask the Expert' session is brilliant. Kids should not depend their learning on just one teacher.
Our first 'Ask the Expert' session was with a hydrologist because my 5th grade students were learning about water. Because of the time difference (we all live in Indonesia and the professor live in the US), the session could only be started at 9 pm Jakarta time but my students were excited and forget their sleepiness. I was the moderator for a minute before 'Iron Woman', one of my students, took over my role (and keep me aside. lol).
My students agreed that they would ask just one question about water to the professor but as soon as the session started, they asked more than one question and they were competing for their chance to ask. It was a great night. Here are some of my students' questions:
- How old is water?
- Will water cycle stop?
- How did we get water on earth?
- Why isn't there water in other planets?
- How can water conduct electricity?
- Can we make wter out of substances that is not water?
and many more....