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Elk Meadows, Jordan Ridge Students Become Scientists, Handle Museum Pieces

Jul 06, 2016 10:37AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan Ridge fourth-graders learn about rocks and minerals during their Museum on the Move presentation. — Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


Jordan Ridge fourth-grade students sat ready with paper and pencils as Liz Baldwin, an education facilitator for the Natural Museum of History, explained how to take notes and carefully handle the rocks and minerals she brought to the school in a “Museum on the Move” trunk.

“I want you to explore, observe with your five senses, ask questions and then, using your best guess with supportive knowledge and evidence, make an inference and record what you see,” she said. “You can sketch, draw, write notes and add details to keep track of your observations and findings. It’s best to be very curious. The best scientists ask the best questions.”

Jordan Ridge hosted Museum on the Move April 25 and May 29 and Elk Meadows invited the museum on April 22 and April 29.

Jordan Ridge fourth-grade teacher Ruth Dorius said that this gave students a chance to handle rocks and minerals they studied about.

“They’re using their senses as they record what they’re observing and having a greater understanding by this hands-on experience,” she said. “The students are learning more about the scientific method of asking questions and exploring as they handle the objects, see the differences and recording them.”

Dorius said that after seeing the education facilitators model, teachers are able to check out the trunks for use.

“It’s a great way to reinforce what they’re learning and by having different presentations each year, we can incorporate what we see into our lesson plans,” she said. For fourth-grader Haylee Gardner, it was about discovering the rocks the Natural History Museum provided.

“I like learning about the features of the rocks, how they feel and look,” she said.

Classmate Olivia McEwan said that she was trying to guess what each one was as Georgia Madsen was feeling which ones were heavier.

Fourth-grader Tatum Riley said this was a way she could understand the rocks and mineral unit better.

“I like being able to touch them, to look at them, ask questions and try to figure out what each rock is,” she said.

That is part of why Baldwin likes coming to classrooms.

“We like when kids ask inquiry-base questions. This reinforces what they’re learning in the class. We realize not all students can make it to the museum, so this is an outreach program where we can come to them to gain that experience,” she said.

Fourth-grade teacher Melissa Handy said the teachers decided to have the Natural History Museum bring the rock and minerals this year after bringing fossils a previous year.

“They bring lesson plans and resources for us to use as well as samples the kids really enjoy,” she said, adding that it is part of the fourth-grade core curriculum.

In addition to fossils, rocks and minerals, the fourth-grade core curriculum also includes environment, weather and water cycle.

In addition to rocks and minerals, the outreach program has trunks of animal adaptations, fossils and archeology. Elk Meadows selected animal adaptations with education program specialist Matt Cobley.

“Ask yourself, ‘what is this?’ and ‘what is it used for?’” Cobley said to the students. “I want you to answer the question, ‘I think blank because of blank and fill in those blanks from observing, making inferences and taking notes.”

Cobley said students are learning more since they are holding specimens and asking what science is and what it does.

“We want students to have a good experience with science. When they realize they’re able to answer their own questions instead of looking to someone in a white lab coat or a teacher for answers, then they’re learning the scientific method. By observing, comparing, contrasting, using their senses, they’re able to make inferences and learn,” he said.

Fourth-grader Rylee Russell, who wants to be a meteorologist, said that it was fun figuring out some feathers are used for camouflage, some for warmth, some for flying and others to attract mates.

 “It’s really cool that we’re getting to handle all these things,” she said, as she looked at pointy teeth in an animal skull. “I can learn about animals better by having this experience instead of just looking at pictures in a book.”  

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