Friday, January 27, 2012


We have been doing some research into recent volcanoes and as the UK was affected by the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano in 2011 we thought this would be an interesting volcano to discuss and write some newspaper articles about. Many flights were cancelled because a huge cloud of volcanic ash traveled all the way from Iceland to the UK. Scientists feared that the ash might get inside the planes engines if they were to fly through the ash cloud meaning passengers might be in danger. This was why so many planes were grounded.

We challenge you to pronounce the name of the volcano - Eyjafjallajokull

Our next challenge after trying to pronounce the volcanoes name was to find out some information about it. We searched online, looked in books, read newspaper articles and shared our own knowledge with the rest of the class to carry out our research and write our own newspaper articles. We found the CBBC news report below very useful because it provided us with lots of information and allowed us to see what the volcano actually looked like. People in the UK heard a lot about flights being cancelled but we wanted to know more about how the people living near the volcano were affected too.

CBBC Icelandic volcano 2011

4G will be entering some of their newspaper articles showing their research shortly - stay tuned folks!


Have a look at these videos first to get an idea of what happens during a volcanic eruption.

You are now beginning to get an idea of what happens during an eruption and I bet you would not like to be too close! We have already learned about the Earth's plates and we know that when the plates move apart they can cause cracks or gaps which releases the hot molten rock to the surface of the Earth. What we saw in the second video was lava. This is what we call the molten rock when it reaches the surface of the Earth. Let's have a look at the diagram below to get a better idea of what the inside of a volcano looks like.

The Earth's crust is coloured brown in the diagram. This is the outer layer of the Earth. We can see a magma chamber coming up through the crust. Magma is the correct name for the hot liquid molten rock that is leaving the mantle and making its way towards the surface of the Earth. The middle of the volcano has a vent and the magma travels up through the vent. The pressure beneath the Earth's crust can cause the magma to explode out the top of the volcano and such an explosion can blow the top off leaving a crater. As soon as the magma reaches the surface it becomes lava and it oozes down the side of the volcano. Eventually the air cools the lava and it hardens. This means the volcano will have another layer added to it once the lava cools. The more eruptions a volcano has the bigger it gets because the lava keeps cooling and adding extra layers of rock.

DID YOU KNOW? Volcanoes that still erupt are called 'active volcanoes'. Volcanoes that have not erupted for several years are called 'dormant volcanoes' which means they are said to be asleep. Volcanoes that are unlikely to ever erupt again are called 'extinct volcanoes'.


In our last post we talked about how the outer layer of the Earth is called the crust and this is the layer we live on. The crust is not just one big covering like the peel around an orange. Instead it is like a jigsaw and all the pieces fit together. So it would be like if you peeled the orange and then put the peel back on. You would be putting it back on in pieces and sticking them all together to try and cover the orange again. Try doing it! There will now be little gaps between the orange peels. If this was our Earth we would call the pieces of peel the 'plates'.

The mantle is underneath the plates and is made of liquid rock. The plates all float on top of the liquid rock. Can you imagine that underneath the ground we walk on, is actually a runny, oozy melting rock and the crust under our feet is floating on top of it! So that means all the jigsaw pieces (plates) of the crust are floating on the melting rock.

These moving plates cause earthquakes and volcanoes. If you imagine the plates all floating around on top of the mantle. They will have to glide past each other and sometimes will rub together. When this happens they cause a vibration which causes the ground to shake. This is an earthquake.
Other times the plates will move away from each other causing a gap. This gap allows the liquid rock and gas beneath the crust to escape out onto the surface of the Earth. When liquid rock escapes like this a volcano is formed. In the next post we will look at volcanoes in more detail.

THE MOVING OF THE PLATES IS CALLED 'PLATE TECTONICS'. Plate tectonics means our continents are moving each year. They are being carried in different directions because they are part of different moving plates.

Have a look at this video to get a clearer picture of the moving plates.


Have you ever wondered what is inside our planet? We all know that our planet is round and we live on its surface but what goes on underneath our feet? By understanding the structure of our planet it will make it easier for us to understand the ways it is active. First of all lets have a look at this cross section which shows what our Earth would look like if a section was cut out of it.

We can see there are 4 different layers:

The inner core is in the centre. It is the hottest part of the Earth. It is solid and made up of metals called iron and nickel. Its temperature is about 5,500°C! That would be MUCH too hot for humans to live near!

The outer core surrounds the inner core. It is a liquid layer, also made up of iron and nickel.

The mantle is the widest section of the Earth. It is made up of semi-molten rock called magma. Semi-molten means that the rock is soft and beginning to melt. In the upper parts of the mantle the rock is hard.

The crust is the outer layer of the earth. It is a thin layer and this is the layer we live on. There are 2 different types of crust:
Continental crust which carries land
Oceanic crust which carries water

Our next entry will have a look at the crust in more detail and explain that the ground we walk on is actually moving beneath our feet!


Although we might still be young, there have been many times we have heard about events around the world caused by our active Earth. If there is damage to properties and people are injured these events are known as natural disasters. For example many children will have heard about the earthquake in Japan 2011 where many people lost their lives. Before we begin learning about what causes these events, it can be helpful to focus on some photos to help us think about what might be happening.

Take a few minutes to discuss with someone what might have happened in each of these pictures.

What was the cause?
What damage can you see?
Do you think any people might have been hurt?
What will happen now?
How do you think the people of the local community feel?


Have you ever thought about what you would do if an earthquake struck in the place that you live?

What if buildings were damaged and people lost their homes?

Where would these people stay and what kind of things would they need?


Today after lunch 4G were in for a bit of a shock. As they entered their classroom they noticed desks upturned, chairs strewn around the room and pencil pots scattered all over the floor. Books had fallen off the shelves and littered the carpet. Their teacher looked serious and quickly took the register to check everyone was present. She told 4G there had been a tremor at lunchtime. Some houses in the area had been damaged and one of the nearby roads had been closed off due to large cracks. The school was to be used as a disaster relief centre for the local community who needed somewhere to stay for the night. 4G needed to help prepare the centre and quickly divided themselves into teams:

Outside risk assessment team - checked the school grounds for parts that may be unsafe such as falling branches, cracks in the playground or broken walls which might fall down on top of someone.

Indoors risk assessment team - checked for cracks in the walls. Had any of the windows been broken? Were all the rooms safe? Had any of the ceiling fallen in?

First Aid experts - when members of the community started arriving they might need bandages or slings for wounds.

Grocery shopping team - food would have to be prepared for anyone who was staying. This called for online grocery shopping. What kind of healthy meals could we make them? As it is Winter and many people might be cold what kind of food would help warm them up? What food is a good energy source?

Bedding team - what kind of bedding would people need? What website would sell bedding? As it is Winter what kind of bedding will provide warmth? What if there are very old people or young children? Are there any other extras we could provide to keep them warm?

Creche team - what would we need in a creche for very young children? What do mothers use to feed and change their babies? Where to babies sleep? Could we provide anything for the children to play with?

Information team - our deputy head was in contact with the police, other adults in the community and many of the schools in Hackney to gather information and maps outlining the worst hit areas. The team took these maps and info back to the press release team who wrote up their reports for local newspapers.

Press release team - newspapers will want a good story to show readers how serious the matter is. What are the facts? What exactly has happened? Where is the disaster relief centre? Who can go there for help? What help is provided? Are any roads closed or damaged? Have scientists warned of any more tremors?

By the end of the day 4G had unbelievably organised everything needed to set up a disaster relief centre. Their hard work really has impressed not just their class teacher but the whole school. One adult in the classroom has stated
4G were amazing. They immediately jumped to action and arranged for all the necessities a disaster relief centre would need. If I were ever unfortunate enough to have my home damaged by a natural disaster I would definitely trust 4G to set up a centre that would keep me safe and provide me with food and shelter until my home was fixed. They should be very proud of their efforts.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Natural disasters occur all around the world. They happen because of changes happening in our planet Earth and cannot be prevented. Sometimes they happen in very poor areas where people really need help. Many charities send aid to these people. Have a look at the below video about the charity 'Shelterbox'. Pay close attention to what they pack in their disaster relief boxes. Think about why they pack these things and how they might help the people who receive them.