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JiJi has left the cold and snowy lands of Canada and has traveled south to Taos, New Mexico in the United States. This area is a hot and dry desert, so the houses here look very different. The houses JiJi found in Taos are more than 1,000 years old and are some of the oldest, continuously lived-in buildings on our planet! The houses are made of adobe, which is a mix of clay-rich soil, sand, straw, and water. The adobe houses have few windows and do not always have a traditional doorway. The people who live there may climb ladders to enter the house through a hole in the roof. (Luckily we all know JiJi is a pro when it comes to climbing ladders!) Adobe can wear away due to sun, wind and rain, so the residents add to the adobe each year. This has made the walls of some of the houses several feet thick.
- How thick are the walls in your classroom?
- Can you measure the thickness of a wall in a doorway? The walls in Taos are solid adobe, but what do you think is inside the walls of your school?
TEACHER NOTE: Students could investigate the role insulation plays inside the walls of their home and school building. Fill several jars with hot water. Record the temperature of the water. Have students choose different materials (paper, aluminum foil, cloth, bubble wrap, etc.). Place the jars in a refrigerator (if possible) or just leave them out in the room. Wait thirty minutes and record the temperatures again. Discuss the results. Which jar(s) had warmer water? Why?