Volunteer Sandra Hernandez-Hangarter’s Program for First Graders

RESET volunteers like to learn what other volunteers are doing in their classrooms.  Below is a report from Sandra Hernandez-Hangarter on her program with first graders at Stratford Landing Elementary in Alexandria, VA.  Please send me descriptions of your RESET classroom sessions to post so we can all benefit from your experiences and get new ideas for our own programs.  Thanks!  John

Briefly, last year through the six lessons that were held in Ms. Baker’s class, the student’s got exposed to microscopes, cells (prokaryotes and eukaryotes), the electromagnetic spectrum, lasers, and intro to engineering. Through the lessons I aimed at introducing the students to a variety of science fields and applications by providing relevant state of the art information in a small power point presentation, followed by a hand-on activity that was both fun, and instructional. I integrated different aspects of the scientific method throughout the lessons, without necessarily teaching it, and had the kids enjoy the various difficult topics. I would say that through the lessons, the students learned to make their own microscope slides, learned about natural resources and environmental impact of disasters (natural & man made) via an oil spill demonstration, dissected plants, looked at constituents of pond water and inner cheek cells, and even worked in teams to ‘engineer’ a protective casing in an egg drop demonstration. My goal was really to provide exposure to STEAM fields and help generate excitement at their young age.
It was a lot of fun all around, and of course I enjoyed it just as much. I learned a few things along the way on what worked better in engaging 24 students all at once. So by the end of my sessions, I had a full format that worked for me:
1. 5-10 minute power point presentation introducing or covering the topic (had key words, and pictures pictures pictures!),
2. a work sheet for the students to fill out (and feel accountable)- I never really collected them but most kids attempted to fill them out,
3. when appropriate, a couple of hand-on stations for the students them to rotate. I found that breaking them into smaller groups made it easier.
I also had several parent volunteer helpers, two consistent ones that were present most of the sessions, and two others that helped once or twice. There too, I worked out an approach that helped: usually it was an email the day before with instructions of the goal of the lesson, details on what the kids should be doing, suggestions on how to guide the specific topic thinking (what questions to prompt the students), and time frames to stick to.

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