Exciting Discoveries Were at the Heart of Our Scientist-in-Residence Week

Think big. That is what The Children’s School likes to do when it comes to planning our curriculum or, as was the case this month, Scientist-in-Residence week. We know the enormous reservoir of potential that lies within our students as well how driven they are to stretch and strive when they are curious about something.

In fact, it is their insatiable curiosity about the world and how it works that makes them so open to everything and that, in turn, means that our collective focus as teachers and parents is to allow them to explore and discover the world freely wherever they may be. “A mind that opens to a new idea,” said Albert Einstein, “never returns to its original size.” The Children’s School exposes children to new ideas through outdoor field trips, classroom visits and observations of nature, such as the change of seasons in our backyard. In particular, our Scientist-in-Residence week helps further students’ fascination with the natural world by bringing scientists and science enthusiasts to campus to share their experiences, knowledge and insights.

It was an extraordinary week in terms of introducing new concepts and growing your children’s young minds. Guided by visiting experts, students had the opportunity to examine and analyze the physics of gravity and motion, the solar system and eclipses, states of matter, and animal adaptations. Much as a researcher would, the children learned through hands-on experiments what kinds of questions scientists ask—and asked questions of their own. Below is a glimpse of what the children experienced:

– A docent from Mad Science led the children through exciting demonstrations of the invisible force of gravity and Newton’s laws of motion. The children explored the forces needed to make objects move or change direction by experimenting with air pressure, which made balls float, propellers rotate and balloons zoom around the room. They even generated enough energy to send a classmate gliding across the classroom in a “Newton rocket car”!

– A science educator from Talewise used dry ice to bring drama to our classrooms, offering students the opportunity to participate in a rollicking tale of scientific adventure. The children delightedly conducted experiments with frozen carbon dioxide, predicting what would happen as the pellets warmed. The resulting roiling clouds of gas helped them to understand the role of temperature in changing states of matter and added plot twists to the unfolding story.

– Chris Evers from Animal Embassy, which is dedicated to exotic animal rescue and environmental education, brought fascinating animal ambassadors from around the globe into our classrooms. Each compelling creature—a gecko, a red-foot tortoise, tree frogs, an armadillo and a South American chinchilla, among others—came with a geography lesson that was reinforced by an explanation of the unique physical and behavioral attributes of the species that allow it to survive in its natural habitat.

– The older children are excitedly anticipating the solar eclipse on April 8, which will be visible in our area. To better understand this celestial phenomenon, they delved into the physical relationship between the sun, Earth and the moon with our visiting science educators and “created an eclipse” by moving around the classroom in orbits. They also learned how to keep their eyes safe during this rare event, and will be going home with special glasses as the date approaches.

– Bringing the week to a festive close, TCS alumni parent Barbara Rucci, an art teacher, graphic designer and author of Art Workshop for Children, taught students how to make art from recycled materials. Our students were completely absorbed in making structures out of cork stoppers, bits of yarn and wood—which tells you how powerful the combination of art and recycling can be for teaching the young about concepts of conservation and sustainability.

Intentionally broad in scope, our Scientist-in-Residence program stokes our students’ curiosity about a range of different scientific concepts and, in the process, helps them to discover what interests and inspires them. How the staff enjoyed teaching your children about scientific inquiry and the rudiments of the scientific method! We are pretty sure your children departed school on Friday with—as Einstein predicted—slightly bigger heads because of all they learned from our visiting experts.

Wherever these March days take you, we hope our young scientists will tell you about the small marvels they notice along the way.