Our first month of classes as part of the Superheroes of Science After School Program have been a fun jumble of activities featuring hands-on learning opportunities and creative, critical thinking.
A new activity using large foam pieces to make marble roller coasters has turned out to be one of our most popular activities ever! Children at both Forestville Elementary School and Great Falls Elementary School did not want to go home and have asked for us to bring it back. Materials are simple – long foam pipe insulation cut in half, tape, and marbles, but our method of allowing for complete freedom and creativity inspired ambitious designs. Students climbed as high as they could to start their roller coasters at the ceiling and connected pieces to create structures that wound their way around the room. They learned about kinetic and potential energy and got a really good understanding of momentum and centrifugal and centripetal forces. These large structures required collaboration, and when things didn’t go according to plan, a lot of empathy.
We are pushing to incorporate more art and creativity into our programs, such as in one lesson that was an art lesson that required an understanding of physics. Children were given clay and a variety of art and office supplies and asked to build a robot-like sculpture. The challenge had the following requirements: the sculpture had to be at least 6 inches high, have at least one outstretched appendix with something hanging off the end (thus requiring balanced weight), and have something detachable (requiring an even finer understanding of how the balance would change as “capes” were removed). The combination of creativity and clay brought in a rare tactile element to science class.
With spring approaching and the weather improving we increased our outdoor education, taking advantage of the outdoors to make messes and discover natural phenomena. At Forestville students learned math, geography, biology, and relaxation during a Scavenger Hunt. At Great Falls, students make chemical reaction messes by comparing the classic baking soda-vinegar reaction to the biochemical reaction of yeast and hydrogen peroxide, do a comparative experiment with salt on snow, and build tall structures with spaghetti.
As with all of iSchool’s offerings, even the most basic science topics are presented in a hands-on way. At Great Falls students learned about the difference between observation and inference by trying to figure out items hidden in colorful containers. They then applied that knowledge to their foam roller coasters, inferring the trajectory of their marbles.
To expose children to a wide community of experts, iSchool also brings in guest speakers. iSchool was pleased to welcome Dr. Zen and his team from the Googol Education School of Innovation, Mathematics and Technology and the Zen Innovation Center to Forestville for a special presentation called “Math is a Game, Learn to Play It.” Students raced to answer questions that showed amazing patterns in numbers. They then examined spatial patterns by playing with robots!
All of iSchool’s Creative STEM Programs use our exclusive STEAM SEL curriculum, which seamlessly integrates science, technology, engineering, art, math, and social and emotional skills. To build emotional intelligence, we focus on skills such as collaboration, relaxation, critical thinking, and out-of-the-box ideas. Want your child to have these types of educationally and emotionally enriching experiences? Your child can enjoy these activities at our Spring Break Science Camp, Summer Camps, or After-School Programs. Discounts available!