In a year when children have worked through an unprecedented disruption in their schooling, it’s good to hear about the normal hopes and dreams of students – like what they want to be when they grow up.
“If you asked Seneca right now, she’d say she wants to be a scientist,” said Erica Urda about her daughter, a second grader in Windsor.
“I want to be a scientist so I can discover stuff. Then, I can discover more stuff,” said Seneca.
Thanks to a partnership between the Windsor Central School District and Binghamton University, Seneca had a chance to chase her dream this summer during a virtual science camp.
Binghamton University graduate students led the five-session camp remotely through Zoom, focusing on various science standards. The graduate students implemented five science and literacy lessons, as well as developed at-home extension activities for the Windsor elementary students.
“Experiments included everything from blubber simulation to building a bird feeder. The final k-2 lessons students zoomed from shelters they built at home. Not only was this cute, but you could feel their excitement through the screen as they discussed their shelter thus making connections with new learning,” said kindergarten teacher Kara Beattie.
For many parents and children, the camp was a welcome break this summer.
“I thought it was phenomenal,” said Urda. “It definitely gave them something to look forward to.”
“I am hoping the students were able to come away with an increased level of confidence in their ability to connect what they already know with what they are naturally curious about. We connected several of our at-home extension activities with our live Zoom instruction. This provided students with a more hands-on experience,” said Binghamton University graduate student Naomi Stolarcyk.
In some ways, the science topics such as animals, force, and movement were hooks to get the elementary students to improve their literacy skills.
“Through the course of two weeks, my co- teacher and I made interactive slides that involved different levels of literacy strategies to learn about the different animal topics from that lesson, such as sentence completion, reading, matching, and pictures to assist students with understanding,” said Binghamton University graduate student Carolyn Gosney.
“When the camp moved from in-person to virtual I was a bit apprehensive about how it would go. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement each lesson brought,” said Beattie.
Older elementary students studied invisible forces, including magnetic repulsion and attraction. One of their projects was to create a maze, then move an object through it with a magnet.
“The students were very engaged, especially in the magnet group. They were given lots of hands on materials to investigate with during the zoom, which heightened their engagement. They also loved applying what they learned to building the magnet maze. The little ones also applied what they learned as they built ramps and used them to test objects speed of movement at different heights,” said Windsor elementary teacher Sheri Adbullah.”
The science and literacy lessons gave students academic engagement this summer. But, other benefits may have been just as important.
“Peyton is an only child and we’re not allowed to have play dates. It was great for him to interact with other kids and be silly,” said Jennifer Musok, whose son Peyton is entering 2nd grade at Bell Elementary. “I know he looked forward to it every day it happened. He had a great time doing it.”