Week two of Science Giants was short but definitely sweet! On Thursday, the students got to opportunity to experience a thought provoking activity all about thanks to a collaboration with staff at Lincoln Park Zoo. The students were given laminated maps of the Chicago metropolitan area and markers and were asked “Where did they come from?” – meaning, they were to trace the route they took that morning to get to the program. After retracing their steps, we delved into a discussion on where in their route had they seen an example or implementation of science. This lead to such great discussion that at one point, when explaining all the science that is occurring in a kitchen (which came up because a student mentioned they stopped at a fast food restaurant on their way to program), Armante was bold enough to speak up and state “I learn a lot when I come here” What made that statement even more significant was when mention of observing the weather of the day on the students’ route to and from program is a practice in observing science brought to the students mind concepts they learned the day before. On Wednesday, we did an activity called “Cloud in a Jar” and “Tornado in a Bottle”, and on Thursday they were tying key facts they had taught themselves about weather systems to this discussion about daily observable science! New neuronal connections have clearly been made within these students burgeoning minds, and it is amazing to witness.
Following the “Where did you come from?” activity and discussion, the students did two experiments: one called “Lava in a Cup”, the other “Lava Lamp in a Bottle.” Obviously, there is a bit of a theme there. Again, connections were made, and this time it was from last week’s activities. Truly these students were blowing my mind, showing off all they were learning. The lava lamp project required pouring water, oil, food coloring, and alka-seltzer tablets in a bottle. After learning that sodium bicarbonate is the key ingredient in alka-seltzer for creating its signature fizziness and that hydrogen is part of that compound’s chemical formula, Quentin spoke up ,realizing he had done research on hydrogen last week and remembered that it is important to chemical reactions. Following that “light-bulb” moment, Andrea explained what she had learned about why the oil sits on top of the water. She did great with her explanation because she did more than explain water is denser than water. In her research, she discovered the more prominent reason they do not mix is because water is a charged substance, whereas oil is not and that is why they will not mix. That great explanation gave a light-bulb moment to Donell, who realized that our “Lava in a Cup” experiment (oil, food coloring, then salt poured into water), aside from density causing the salt to sink to the bottom of the water, the reason for the salt dissolving in the water must be because it too is charged. As I said at the start, this week may have been short, but it was definitely sweet. That also goes for this week’s recitations. The students recited excerpts from historical speeches. They recited these in full both days we were there. After each student read theirs on Wednesday, they were given background on who gave that speech, what they meant to history as we know it, and purpose of their speech was. Thursday saw across the board improvements on students’ delivery of these speeches. 🙂 Next week is tongue twisters, old English, and broken English. I cannot wait to see the fun they have with those!
Written By: Caitlin O’Brien