Elementary Science Kits and Teacher Trainings
Little Shop of Physics partnered with Poudre School District (PSD), the Bohemian Foundation and the Rotary Club of Fort Collins to provide kits for every elementary school in the district. Based on teacher feedback, state and local standards, and materials that are already deployed in the classroom, three different types of kits were developed.
- States of Matter Kit — 3rd Grade
Each kit contains a USB microscope, a model of a sodium chloride crystal, a sample of gallium metal, a sensitive scale, a giant (2 meter) beach ball with a pump, hand boiler and a hot plate. They also contains class sets of sodium acetate hand warmers and square bubble supplies. A summary of the activities can be found here.
- Force and Motion Kit — Kindergarten and 2nd Grade
Each kit contains a class set of tumble buggies, propellor racers, hover pucks, electric fans, rope, popper toys, pullback cars. Additionally, each school built a hovercraft as part of the training which became part of their kit. A summary of the experiments can be found here and all of the written materials can be found here.
- Magnetism Kit — 4th Grade
Each kit contains class sets of levitating magnets and globes with magnets and 3-d magnetic field probes. Additionally, there demonstrations of magnetic braking, levitating graphite, writing with magnetism, homopolar motors, and generating electricity with magnetism. There’s also an activity called Magnetic Surprises, where student can explore and find magnetics in surprising places: sand, money and breakfast cereal for a start! A summary of all of the activities can be found here.
The Little Shop of Physics crew built enough copies of each kit for every elementary school in PSD, plus an additional kit to be kept at the district itself and to be made available for teachers to check out. Each kit contains written lesson plans including pictures for each each activity.
Teachers were invited to an afternoon at the Little Shop of Physics at Colorado State University in order to train and assemble their kits. The training was conducted by the Little Shop of Physics crew, which includes folks with teaching experience at the elementary, high school and college levels. Teachers were taught the theory and underlying concepts behind the subjects of the kits, and through a series of hands-on activities used their own kits in order to reinforce and extend upon this knowledge. On completion of the training, each kit was ready to be used in the classroom.
In total, 83 instructors from 28 PSD Schools participated in the training sessions.
Please check out this article from the Fort Collins Rotary Club about the magnetism kits and their STEM Education work in general. Also, photos of the teacher training can be found below: