18 August 2011

BES Graduate Students Engage Incoming Freshman at Dunbar High in Environmental Science

On Tuesday, August 9th, BES-MSP G6-12 Fellows went to Dunbar High School to help teacher Shan Rajendran get entering freshman at summer orientation pumped about environmental science.  The 190 students who rotated through Mr. Rajendran’s classroom that day were greeted with several engagement questions:  1) Does air have mass?  2) How do substances and water move through the environment?  and, 3)  Do plants respire like people?

Students wrote the questions and their hypotheses in their laboratory notebooks and then discussed their predictions as a class.  Then students recorded the mass of an Alka-Seltzer tablet and a cup of water.  After they dropped the Alka-Seltzer in the water they observed fizzing bubbles rising out of the mixture and many students noticed that the mass went down.  Some of the students thought that a mistake had been made but others helped them realize that the mass had gone down because of the gas in the bubbles leaving.  They had just demonstrated that air has mass!

Then the students broke into groups of fifteen and rotated among stations.  Grad Fellow Julie Baynard taught the students how to use Vernier Labquest probes and chambers with oxygen and carbon dioxide probes.  Grad Fellow Natalie Mollett had students work with a watershed model and predict how water would move across the model surface and why.  Grad Fellow Tammy Newcomer gave students jars of substances such as motor oil, fertilizer, and leaves and had students discuss how substances move with water through their schoolyard environment   It looks like these Freshmen are in for many enlightening scientific discoveries in the upcoming year!

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