Immaculate Heart High School: Turning the Tides on Traditional Instruction

Published : Monday, September 18, 2017 | 12:41 PM

A student swings a bucket of water to demonstrate the inertia caused by rotation.

Marine Biology students at Immaculate Heart High School recently took their learning outdoors to spin, rotate, and even swing buckets of water for an impactful lesson on tides.

“I enjoy doing these demonstrations because they’re fun for the students,” science teacher Stacie Miller explained. “And they also creatively help explain a very complicated process!”

Students “feel the force” as they spin in pairs during an outdoor lesson on tides.

Miller first invited student volunteers to swing a bucket of water in a large vertical circle. As they swung the bucket over their heads, students discovered how the inertia caused by the rotation kept the water in the bucket, rather than spilling onto their heads. This exercise demonstrated on a smaller scale the similar effect created upon the oceans by the earth’s rotation.

To further explain this concept, Miller had students break into pairs and spin each other around in a tight circle. All the students felt themselves being “pushed” out as they spun, giving them a very physical understanding of the kind of forces involved.

In groups of three, Immaculate Heart’s Marine Biology students acted out the combined effect of the moon's gravitational pull and the earth's rotation upon the tides.

Students then formed groups of three to act out the relative positions of the sun, the earth, and the moon throughout the 28-day tidal cycle. By putting themselves in these places, the students were able to see how the sun and the moon’s gravitational pulls interact with the earth’s rotation, causing the tides.

This won’t be the last time Marine Biology students have a chance to get hands-on with their course material. For over 10 years, Marine Biology students have traveled to Catalina Island for a three-day, two-night educational excursion. While there, students hike, kayak, and snorkel as they study local flora, fauna, and ecosystems.

Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School, 5515 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, (323) 461-3651 or visit






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