This past week was our last Science Magic class with home-schooled students at the Great Falls Library in Great Falls, VA. The 10-week session seemed to fly by!
To complete the session, students each gave a short presentation on their favorite topics, and participated in a service project. These two steps illustrate the iSchool approach to science education: doing place-based studies that lead to real-world action and that are integrated with social and emotional skills. Our session included three distinct components: 1) Building a foundation of scientific understanding, using hands-on, fun activities; 2) Taking that foundation to study real questions about the library; and 3) Communicating results and taking action based on the findings.
The week prior to the presentations students had participated in a session review and learning assessment. They discussed the many topics they had covered and what they had learned from those topics. They then each chose a topic for which they would prepare a presentation. They worked on their presentations at home as voluntary homework. iSchool for the Future worked with parents to provide review sheets and sample note cards for the students to use during the presentation. We were really pleased to see that no students used the sample notecards verbatim – each student worked up his or her own language to convey what he/she learned. The group practiced their presentations quickly during the last class before the audience arrived.
One student described our climate change lesson and what she had learned about ocean acidification destroying coral reefs. She then encouraged the library to plant more trees along the road. Another student explained how we used our understanding of chemical reactions to study water quality in the library meadow’s pond. She concluded that the pond would support life and encouraged the library to convey the importance of the pond to the public. One young boy gave a demonstration of acid-base reactions, and gave an excellent description of electron transfer at the atomic level. Another student listed the findings of our trash survey – including missing recycling bins, unlabeled trash and recycling bins, and recycling in the trash.
The entire group then presented Ms. Daniela Dixon, GFL Branch Manager, with the gift of a hand-painted recycling bin, encouraging the library to recycle more.
In addition to sharing results and encouraging more recycling, students also planted flowers around the mailbox in an effort to brighten the postal carrier’s day and help the library do its small part to reduce climate change.
Ms. Dixon thanked the students for their studies and recommendations, and said, “Great minds must think alike” as she described several projects that the library hopes to undertake, many of which will address the student’s recommendations. Ms. Dixon also told the audience about a fundraising project currently underway to purchase and plant White Oaks along the road.
iSchool for the Future would like to thank the students, parents, library staff, and Friends of the Great Falls Library for their enthusiasm and support during this inaugural home-schooled library session!