Calvin peered over a mound of molten sugar cubes, analyzing and critiquing the design. “There’s a cave entrance,” he said, pointing to a small bluish hole in the side of the model.
Students in Cool Caves built cool models today to study the structure of limestone caves. “It’s all made of sugar cubes then we put a raw egg frosting on it,” Calvin explained. “We use hot glue water to melt caves in it.”
Calvin and his group created their own cave system then joined others who were rotating around the room comparing each others’ creations. “Now we’re observing other people’s caves,” he said.
“It’s got thick frosting,” Allie noticed at one table. “There are two holes. It looks like they used as much sugar cubes as possible.”
The students created the sugary mountains to demonstrate how cave systems are formed. “We make a hill and put liquid in it,” said Devin. “It’s like the carbonic acid that creates real caves.”
Teacher Michelle Lynum explained this natural process: “Ground water mixes with carbonic acid to create limestone caves.”
“Karst” is the type of landscape where limestone is located and caves are commonly formed. Before building their sugar-cube cave systems, students explored karst caverns through paper models that identified the characteristics of limestone caves.
Nora was intrigued by a model that tumbled across the platform in a particularly delicious way. “It looks like a gravity-defying dessert,” she observed.
In evaluating each other’s work, students were asked to notice if cave tunnels went all the way through the structures. “We tested ours and it goes all the way through,” said Leo.
Thomas noticed that the “gravity-defying dessert” model had more than one cave. Another one displayed a sink hole on the top.
The final activity involved lifting the sugar mounds from the platforms to reveal patterns formed on the bottom. Some students found cavern openings, while others marveled at the beautiful icy blue of the sugar formations.