At the onset, the words SCIENCE FAIR may spark feelings of excitement, frenzy, confusion, or even dread. This is a very daunting task we place before our fourth graders. “Chose a scientific topic, formulate a central question and a hypothesis, create a demonstration or experiment to prove (or disprove your hypothesis), research the science behind your topic, write a conclusion and finally, present your findings to fellow students, teachers, family and friends.” At The Unquowa School, fourth grade is the initiation year into the annual science fair. We take this task and break it down into steps. Weeks are spent at school and at home preparing our students for the day of the science fair. As we progress, students gain the confidence of knowing how to approach a large assignment. Excitement and enthusiasm grows as students develop into knowledgeable scientists in their chosen area within the field. The day of the science fair arrived this year bringing with it our newly polished, confident and accomplished fourth grade scientists. Congratulations to all on a job very well done!
This week in technology class we are delving into the art of creating a science fair lab. We will begin by learning how to organize a document by exploring how and where to use bullets, how to check our revision history and rename documents. All the while, students are constantly reminded that in today’s world of blogs, opinion pieces, and other sources of information it gets harder and harder to safely search the internet for quality sources. Be sure to check out all of their progress at the Science Fair this spring!
Students in fourth grade began learning a new song in music class and were so overcome with joy and happiness that they spontaneously stood up, put their arms around one another and continued to sing the song they had been learning. The love of music is a powerful thing.
I still can’t believe how excited grade 3 through grade 6 students are about making dumplings for the Chinese New Year assembly day lunch. One of the third grade students even told me,” I am so happy we can make dumplings. I don’t want to just sit there eating. Making dumplings is more fun!”
Here you go! From all of the photos, I am sure you feel what students have felt. Or maybe more, if you would like to talk to them and let them describe what they have just experienced. Learning by doing. It all works here!
Third and fourth graders recently traveled to the Maritime Aquarium for a day of fun and learning. We began our visit with a classroom activity taught by the wonderful educators at the aquarium. Students examined and dissected a squid to investigate adaptations that allow this mollusk to survive in the wild. Students identified the arms (with suckers), tentacles, beak, ink sack and siphon. We watched videos and examined fins and arms to learn how this creature moves as well. Afterward, students toured the aquarium to discover many forms of aquatic life and much more, including an exhibit on dragons. Students touched sharks, jellyfish and stingrays in the touch tanks and watched the seals being fed. We were even lucky enough to witness a seal named, Orange predict (accurately) that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl. It is always a fantastic day when we visit the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk!
As a Mandarin teacher I am always amazed with my students’ enthusiasm for immersing themselves into culture differences while also appreciating their own culture. This year in class students did an experiment using the style of Chinese culture used to celebrate a traditional American holiday — Thanksgiving.
As the above photos have demonstrated, kindergarteners used the traditional Chinese fan to draw pictures and color the characters for Happy Thanksgiving. For the same purpose, grade 1 made their own Chinese lanterns. To my surprise during the school Thanksgiving feast, grade 1 students volunteered to bring their own lanterns to the feast to show their work to the community. With the beautiful drawing and character handwriting, grade 2 students made their holiday cards look quite unique and impressive.
Even with the traditional concept of expressing the gratitude with the heart shape, the character handwriting, craft materials and the drawing about the holiday revealed seamlessly the combination of American culture and Chinese culture in third and fourth grade student work. Grade 5 and 6 student work led the culmination of the combination of two cultures with their impressive handwriting and drawing on the small gourds.
This experiment turned out to be a quite pleasant experience for students to celebrate their traditional holiday. It has also boosted student interest and curiosity to explore more. Two weeks later, I received the request from most of my classes, “ Zhang Laoshi, can we do something for Christmas like we did for Thanksgiving? Please. Please.” Happily enough we all realized next December in class we will be busy with another holiday 圣诞节 (sheng dan jie, Christmas). Merry Christmas, everybody!