Teachers at Eisenhower Elementary Schools have been the chemists behind a science epidemic.
Teachers at Eisenhower Elementary Schools have been the chemists behind a science epidemic. About the school classrooms and hallways this year could be heard the sounds of excitement, experiments and energy. Since August, pre-kindergarten though fifth-grade students have participated in the monthly Dive Into Science activities. Hands-on projects, experiments and tests have integrated a fun-filled approach to a subject that the building staff knew needed attention. “The kids love science,” kindergarten teacher Linda Ferrell said. “I have had more kids now say they want to be scientists. I think it promotes a higher level of thinking and processing.” Dive Into Science stemmed from academic data that the district received last year. Eisenhower teachers were discussing the trends they saw, which showed science knowledge lower than they thought it should be. In order to address this, they decided Eisenhower needed a schoolwide science theme that could motivate teachers and students to get excited about science, a subject that had been put on the back burner in the past. Staff met over the summer to develop plans. The experiments have occurred once a month with a seasonal theme. Teachers can choose between three to five experiments, which come with lesson plans, lab reports and other activities, and include common vocabulary, such as hypotheses, procedure, data and conclusion. Some projects take more than one day to complete. The staff's vision is to promote excitement, a higher level of thinking and hands-on activities to develop a common language among teachers, students and families. Third grade teacher Carmen Zeisler said she has noticed families with students in varying grades talking about science together. “There's excitement around these experiments,” she said. “I think we all like the idea of a schoolwide initiative. That's been really fun.” Activities typically occur during the end of the month. This month's activities were centered around a Thanksgiving theme. Activities included Cranberry Science fun, where the berries were heated to make jelly; Turkey Bones, where a hardening and softening of bones was observed, and Milky Goo, where vinegar was added to milk to cause chunks to rise to the surface. This was the fourth Dive Into Science day this year. “You never know what's going to happen,” third-grader Brady Harms said about his appreciation for science. “It could work, it could not work. It could explode, it could not explode.” At the conclusion of the year, the staff will evaluate the school's progress and determine what to do next. “We don't know if it's making an impact on scores, but we know its making an impact when kids are really excited about science and have cross-grade links,” Zeisler said. “We have all worked really hard and are excited about what we have done at Eisenhower with science.”