Hands on science excites area students
By Edna Sailor
When students hear Sharon Smith, NDSU Extension Agent from the Mountrail County Office, rolling her stacked cases down the hallway at Parshall Elementary School, they become excited about the science lesson they know is coming. The reason is that hands on science is a winner in the classroom.
This week Sharon brought the world of gears and sprockets with her. Sixth graders in Parshall Elementary learned to build their own launch pads from Lego type materials. What did they launch? Tops. Not only did they launch them, they competed with them. The 17 students were paired or grouped together to work.
Soon the room buzzed with student comments about what should go where and how to get the pieces in the right order. Teamwork was alive and well. Those students who completed their launch pads first, voluntarily lent a helping hand to others who needed help. Then the launching began. "Look at it go," One kid said his success came from doing this since 1982. That brought a chuckle from the older people in the room.
So what can sixth graders gain from playing with logos and tops? According to Smith they are introduced to the world of kinetic and potential energy as they deftly manipulate the proper gears into the right place. If not, the gears won’t work. And learning how gears work is the lesson. Smith asks them as they work and struggle to line up every gear.