Weather-Proofing Our School - Day One

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Students will investigate weathering issues as related to engineering and construction materials.

Big Idea

Application of weathering information to construction and engineering.

RAP - Review and Preview

5 minutes

In this lesson, I have students evaluate the materials used to construct our school building and assess them for weathering.

I remind students that there are two types of weathering: mechanical and chemical. I tell them that they will walk around the exterior of the school and look at the materials the school is constructed from. They will observe any evidence of weathering and note it on their worksheets and school map.

I Wonder

10 minutes

I tell students that they are working as engineers and need to make notes that they will be able to use when they return to class and can no longer see the area they observed. The information they need to gather is:

  1. Location
  2. Rate the amount of weathering from 1 (minimal weathering) to 10 (very worn/broken down).
  3. Description of how the material has weathered.
  4. Type of weathering: chemical or mechanical
  5. Building material: what is it made of?
  6. Type of building material: human-made or natural (mined or grown)
  7. Approximate age of the material (be sure to find out how old your school building is and how old any additions are)

I have students take a picture of each location, either with their own electronic device or with a digital camera that I provide.

Before I let students go out, on their own, I have them brainstorm different building materials that our school might be made of.  I try to help students classify them into human-made and natural: mined and grown.


40 minutes

I assign students to groups of 4 and give each student a job: scribe, photographer, navigator, and data collector. The scribe write all information on the graphic organizer, the photographer takes pictures of each location, the navigator leads students around the school and notes the location, and the data collector measures anything that may inform the investigation.

I tell students that they need to find at least two examples of each type of weathering in our school. They can find as many examples as they can during the allotted time.

Students move around the building on their own and I roam to supervise any unruly students. I warn school staff that my students will be roaming the building. I ask that students be held accountable for their behavior and can be sent back to the classroom if they are found to be goofing around.

Once students have gathered their data, they return to the classroom to digest the information.

Summing Up

15 minutes

While students are out of the classroom, I place a list of questions on each desk group. Students then return to the classroom to work with their data. The questions I have students answer are:

  1. What type of building materials showed the least amount of weathering? Why?
  2. What type of building materials showed the greatest amount of weathering? Why?
  3.  What type of weathering was most prevalent in our school building? Why?
  4. As chief engineer for the renovations of our school building, what building materials would you propose we use to reduce the amount of weathering on the building?
  5. What recommendations would you make to our principal to reduce weathering on the existing structure and is there anything that you can propose to protect the existing structure from further weathering.
  6. Pick one building material that you observed. Research what it is made of, what it is used for, its use in construction, how easily is the material available, what causes it to weather, and any other interesting facts.

This discussion and research can be continued during day 2 of this lesson. Assessment will be conducted after day 2.