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PUSD’s Summer of Science Sizzles

PUSD’s Summer of Science Sizzles
July 09
15:28 2021

PUSD’s Summer of Science Sizzles

By Steven Law

After four weeks of experimenting, crafting and creating, the Summer of Science came to a glorious, foamy, melty, sticky end as students combined solar energy, and greenhouse capture to transform chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows into s’mores. At least, that’s how Nichole Reitze’s class conducted their final experiment of the summer. The s’mores making was part of a unit exploring heat, solar energy and environmental sustainability, said Miss Reitze.

Right next door to Miss Reitze, Hattie Williams’ class was conducting the practical portion of the States of Matter unit they had been studying for the last four weeks: making root beer floats.

During the States of Matter unit, the students explored liquid, solids and gases.

After the students observed the solid ice cream and the liquid root beer interact, part of which formed gas, they got to eat their yummy science creation.

The Summer of Science classes were taught by Lake View Elementary teachers Nichole Reitze, Hattie Williams, Nichole and Mary Kate McCleaf. The Summer of Science classes were for students grades 1-4. The classes were very popular, with more than 60 students attending the classes.

When asked what the purpose of classes, Miss Reitze said, “To let our kids have fun with science.”

That they did.

The STEM-based classes combined science theory with hands-on application. It was the hands-on experimenting and creating that the students most enjoyed.

During the four-week class, students studied Habitats, Land Forms, Dinosaurs and States of Matter. All the lessons incorporated a lot of hands-on activities, which served to both reinforce the instruction and theory, and make the lesson more fun and memorable.

“When students learned about solar ovens, we talked about heat and solar energy,” said Miss Reitze. “We did states of matter the week prior so we also talked about how states of matter changed: our chocolate changed from a solid to a liquid. We also talked about environmental sustainability and how we could be more environmentally friendly; for example: recycling, picking up trash, reusing items, using solar ovens.

“Each student made their own solar oven themselves. Through working in teams, students were able to experiment with their design to create the ‘perfect’ solar oven. Students all received the same materials, but they had the freedom to put it where they wanted.”

When a student is learning a new concept, the hands-on experiments create new and different neural pathways, that work to reinforce the theory part of the science lesson and make the information easier to recall.

“I really think the kids loved the hands on approach to science,” said Mrs. Williams. “There were songs, videos, lap books and also hands-on activities all focused on one science topic per week. Their favorite seemed to be the solar ovens for sure.”

The Summer of Science teachers consider the classes as a great success.

“Many different academic standards were worked on during the science classes, including reading, writing and math and all in an interactive format,” said Mrs. Williams. “A few of our younger students who had spent the year at home also worked on social skills and fine motor.  It is truly amazing how many academic skills can be combined all in the name of science.
At the end of the Summer of Science, the three teachers could see that the classes had served a dual purpose: Not only had the students learned a lot about science and STEM, many of them  had also grown a love for science and had their curiosities expanded, which, Mrs. Williams said, will continue to produce benefits for years to come.
For some of the students, it was their first time back in a classroom, after doing remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of them had to remember some of their social skills,” said Williams. “Summer school was the perfect place to remember those things.”



Photos: Steven Law

PUSD’s Summer of Science Sizzles - overview

Summary: PUSD’s Summer of Science Sizzles


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