El­e­men­tary stu­dents dis­cover STEM sub­jects at John Brown Univer­sity

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Janelle Jessen Staff Writer jjessen@nwadg.com ■

Stu­dents from South­side El­e­men­tary School and John Brown Univer­sity got a chance to learn from each other dur­ing Dis­cov­ery Day on Mon­day.

Fourth-grade stu­dents spent the af­ter­noon at the univer­sity, touring the cam­pus and do­ing sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math (STEM) re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties such as look­ing for wa­ter or­gan­isms un­der a mi­cro­scope, get­ting a peek at the NASA ro­bot and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an earth­quake on the univer­sity’s shake ta­ble. Mean­while, el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion ma­jors got a chance to sharpen their teach­ing skills by lead­ing young stu­dents in hand­son sci­ence ex­per­i­ments.

Dis­cov­ery Day was a col­lab­o­ra­tive project between the el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment and the sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ments, said Kim Murie,

an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor for the depart­ment of teacher ed­u­ca­tion.

El­e­men­tary school stu­dents vis­ited the Balzer Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter and Bell Sci­ence Hall where en­gi­neer­ing, chem­istry and bi­ol­ogy pro­fes­sors led them in ac­tiv­i­ties. Then the young stu­dents vis­ited Sim­mons Great Hall where el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion ma­jors set up a mini-sci­ence fair and led the fourth-graders in hands-on sci­ence lessons.

“It’s al­ways fun to get out of the class­room and learn in a dif­fer­ent way,” said fourth-grade teacher Julie McCratic.

Fourth-grade sci­ence teacher Beth Brown said the best thing about Dis­cov­ery Day was see­ing how ex­cited her all girls class was about sci­ence and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing new things. There is a lack of women in STEM fields, and Brown is hope­ful the Dis­cov­ery Day will help ig­nite in­ter­est in her stu­dents.

“Maybe this gen­er­a­tion of girls will change that,” Brown said.

Many of Brown’s stu­dents may not have con­ver­sa­tions at home about go­ing to col­lege, so the trip to JBU helps broaden their hori­zons and in­crease their ex­pec­ta­tions, she said.

“It’s good for them to get on a col­lege cam­pus and see how fun col­lege can be,” she said.

The ex­pe­ri­ence was the first time many ed­u­ca­tion ma­jors led chil­dren in lessons, and they had to prac­tice hold­ing stu­dents’ at­ten­tion and en­gag­ing them, Murie said.

Au­drey Mathe, a fresh­man el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion ma­jor, was lead­ing stu­dents in an ex­per­i­ment that demon­strated the way blub­ber pro­tects Arc­tic an­i­mals from the cold. She was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the project as part of her el­e­men­tary sci­ence con­tent class.

Stu­dents plunged their bare hands into a tub of ice-wa­ter and felt the cold, then put on a “blub­ber glove” made of two plas­tic bag­gies with Crisco stuffed in between the lay­ers of plas­tic and stuck their hands in the wa­ter a sec­ond time. Stu­dents found the layer of fat al­most com­pletely pro­tected their hands from feel­ing the cold.

Mathe said the ex­pe­ri­ence was her first time to for­mally teach a les­son and di­rect an ac­tiv­ity. She said it was in­ter­est­ing to learn how to pre­pare a les­son that en­gages stu­dents and sparks their in­ter­est.

“It was great to en­gage with them and see them get ex­cited about learn­ing,” she said.

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

De­bra Bias, a fourth-grade stu­dent at South­side El­e­men­tary, looked through a mi­cro­scope at wa­ter from Sager Creek, search­ing for the or­gan­isms dis­played on the screen be­hind her. The ac­tiv­ity was part of Dis­cov­ery Day at John Brown Univer­sity.

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

Su­san New­ton, a chem­istry pro­fes­sor at John Brown Univer­sity, demon­strated the way dif­fer­ent el­e­ments cre­ate dif­fer­ent col­ored flames when they burn to fourth-grade stu­dents.

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