Students ditch classroom to learn science | NevadaAppeal.com

Students ditch classroom to learn science

Teri Vance
tvance@nevadaappeal.com

Isaac Stuhlmiller used his textbook Friday to learn Newton’s three laws of motion. But instead of reading from it, he used it to test how adding weight and friction to it would affect its ability to be dragged.

“I learn a lot better when you put it into fun stuff and not boring worksheets,” he said.

And the principal thinks the 11-year-old fifth-grader is right.

“If you want kids to be interested in science, you need to go beyond the book,” said Casey Gilles, principal of Fremont Elementary School. “They need to be able to touch it and feel it to get excited about it.”

The school introduced a program this year, where one day each month is dedicated to science.

“You need enough time with science to do the experiments and log the results,” Gilles explained. “All the steps of the scientific process take time.”

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Teachers at each grade level plan the day’s projects for that grade, and submit lesson plans to Gilles.

Fifth-graders focused on physics Friday.

“We learned that we can’t fly because gravity pulls us to the center of the Earth,” said Jodi Ignacio, 11, jumping to prove her point. “We learned about friction, too. If you roll something, it continues to roll until it hits something to make it stop.”

Fourth-graders went outside for some life science. Students documented their observations in the school’s habitat – an area dedicated to indigenous plants and species – then compared that to observations along the Linear Ditch behind the school.

“I think it’s a good thing that we get to be out here,” said Alyssa Forsythe, 10. “If you stay in the classroom all day, you don’t get any fresh air, and you don’t get to learn about nature.”

Ryan Heidt and his partner Dominic Ceragioli, both 9, found a bone, a lizard, birds, wasps and a spider in the habitat.

“We’re learning,” Ryan explained. “We get to see different animals and what they do good for nature. You actually get to see it in real life.”

Gilles said she hopes to expand the program next year to bring in experts around the area to show students potential careers in the field.

Fourth-grade teacher Mary Berge said it has helped her students understand the subject better.

“To me, when you actually go out into the environment and experience it, that’s when you really learn it,” she said. “It helps kids connect to where they live and open their eyes to what’s out there.”