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A Metroplex Instructional Specialist sent me the following query.  Perhaps my response will provide insight into how my Science Safari Science Enrichment Programs work:

“Hi, Susan!  I have been hearing about how wonderful your programs are for a long time.  I would like some information on your after-school science workshops for students, grades 2-5, such as topics studied, program length (daily as well as total # of weeks) and cost.  This school year we had a five-week session on physics, and the kids are already asking if we’re going to have a Science Club again next year.  We are trying to plan ahead, so please send me all the info you have.”

Thank you for the kind words!

 

The duration of series scheduling is up to you.  For example, at DISD’s Reilly Elementary’s “Science Club”, I worked with two sets of students, each on a weekly basis;1st – 3rd-graders on one day, 4th and 5th-graders on a second day, from October through May.  The program coordinator at Reilly, Julie Roland, can be reached at 972/749-7841 if you would like to discover her views on my program this year. 

 

At DISD’s Medrano Elementary, I presented 10 Saturday morning “Science Club” sessions between October and December.  The program coordinator there is Susan Faulkner and the school’s number is (972) 794-3300.

 

Another example would be the monthly sessions I have presented at DISD’s Lakewood Elementary since 2000.  We started the year living for 90 minutes as prehistoric villagers using tons of “stuff” I brought to create what they realized were the necessities of life.  The next time, we were archaeologists who measured (with proper tools) gridded, surveyed and mapped the site.  (The map was wonderful, as the cartographers were all K’s, 1st & 2nd-graders!)  The program coordinator at Lakewood is Toni Watkins and the school phone number is 972/749-7300.

 

I don’t have a “pre-packaged” curriculum.  In reality, I customize each session or series according to the wishes of the client, the abilities/interests of the students, what I wanna do (!) and the duration of the contract. 

 

Given the luxury of time, students at both DISD’s Harry Stone Montessori and Medrano and I established a wetland in a tank.  Stone’s in the cafeteria for all students to enjoy (installed in October, I’m dismantling it this Thursday), Medrano’s in the science lab where the teacher was able to use it for so many lessons, he told me sadly as I dismantled it at the end of our series of sessions.

 

First, the students learned about the properties of water (surface tension, chemistry using chemical indicators…) and how we use water pressure to our advantage.  They all went home (pretty well soaking wet!) with tubing and the knowledge of how to start a siphon without using their mouths.  Then, beginning with an empty, dirty aquarium, unwashed gravel and tap water, we washed and set up the tank and allowed the water to age (I don’t even tell them that chemicals exist that will speed up the process). 

 

While we waited some weeks for the water to age (chemical indicators were used to let us know when critters safely could be introduced), we learned about the bottom of the food chain.  Each student had a bowl of water I brought in from a local creek and/or my pond, replete with algae and the usual cast of micro/macroorganisms – all viewed with the benefit of my video microscopes.  We used key guides to assist in identifying the creatures – taxonomy.  Each student could make a simple slide and use the equipment to present his/her specimen to the rest of the group. 

 

It’s so funny.  They ALWAYS groan as I walk around in my waders planting quantities of “icky” water into their sampling bowls with my turkey baster.  Moments later, as they discover there are THINGS moving around in there, they vociferously begin to complain that “so-and-so got more algae” (they learn not to say “allergy”) than they did!  At Stone, after a couple of weeks with the established aquarium, they practically knocked me down as I arrived one day to announce that they were worried because they couldn’t find the rat-tailled maggot.  (He had a face that only a mother – and these kids – could love!)

 

At Reilly and Medrano, the kids and I created electromagnets with a battery holder and on/off switch (they get to keep ‘em).  My design.  I get to play with my table saw and drill press to prep the wood bases, they learned how to use strippers (they got over that word’s double meaning after a while), screwdrivers, a test meter, sandpaper, a rivet gun.  They also learned the Latin/Greek origin of the word “circuit”, what it is, how to draw it, how to test it if it malfunctions, how to fix it…

 

Regarding the “hard” issues, I work alone, so I require a school staff person be present to handle behavior while I handle science.  Teachers (like Ms. Hilred Scott at Reilly) tell me that they bring this stuff back into their classrooms.  I charge as little as possible, but have a family to feed, so I need to be paid on time (terms – upon receipt of invoice, but I don’t get too itchy as long as the period doesn’t exceed 30 days).  When I firmly schedule a session, I go to work.  If the session is cancelled with little notice, I have to charge because a. I’ve started the work and b. I won’t have time to recoup the lost time with another client.  I only cancel because of “acts of God”: flat tire, bronchitis, 100-year floods and those horrible, three-hour wrecks on the freeway!  I supply all materials, but might need access to water/electricity and the like.

 

So, feel free to speak with those who’ve tried it.  Talk to Debra Salter (DISD Program Manager – (972) 794-3650), Melinda Hoffmann (DISD Program Manager – (972) 794-3659) or Mattie Richardson (Department Director - (972) 794-3663) about the business end of my contracts.

 

 

Best regards,

 

SOC

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs copyright Susan Campbell 2006, all rights reserved.