Monday, November 18, 2013

Checks and Balances

Fourth grade students spend the second marking period learning about what makes Pennsylvania a unique part of the United States. An interesting fact about Pennsylvania is that the format of our state government was used as a framework for the new United States government.

Last week we learned that Pennsylvania's government has an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. Our state government's executive branch is led by the governor and lieutenant governor, and the legislative branch is made up of the General Assembly. Like our federal Congress the General Assembly is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Our judicial branch also has a Supreme Court that interprets laws for the state, but our Supreme Court still has to follow the rulings of the United States Supreme Court.

The unique thing about the branches of our state (and federal) government is that they all have equal amounts of power. Each branch has unique jobs, and those jobs help them keep the other branches from having too much control over what happens in the government. Understanding how checks and balances works can be tricky so we did a little activity to help us understand. Students worked in groups of three, and each person had to hold one corner of a triangle to represent one branch of government. The groups had to balance a marble on the triangle, and while it seemed like it was going to be easy there were marbles bouncing all over the room! We quickly learned that even though each branch has it's own special jobs, it's not easy to work together on a tricky task.

Check out the slideshow below to see the pictures of us practicing our checks and balances!

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