I teach fourth grade in a small, rural, central Pennsylvania town. I currently see almost 100 students, more than half of whom are from low-income housing. As with most rural districts, we have a very tight budget, but I work to incorporate as many activities as possible into our curriculum. I want to make the experience of learning memorable and am constantly devising new stations, labs and other fun activities to help key ideas stick in my curious students' minds.
Hands-on activities allow my students to fully experience the topic we are discussing.
Rather than simply reading about a science idea, the children love it! This multi-sensory approach anchors the concepts in the minds of my students and has helped them to become some of the top performers in standardized testing in our district.
A unique opportunity for learning presented itself in the form of a metal detector that I received for Christmas two years ago year. The detector tied in perfectly with our science unit on energy. The detector provided an exciting hands-on addition to our discussions of circuits and electromagnetism. The children also meet at recess to detect the school grounds (our school was built back in the early 1930s and the area has historical roots going back to the late 1700s).
The club has become such a hit that this year children from other grades have asked to join as well, tripling our membership!
The role of the club in our day-to-day education has also grown and along with it our discussed content. We have added topics such as: soil conservation, plant and insect biology, weathering, and history! During one hunt, the kids found an old ax head. A local blacksmith came in and talked to the kids about the times in which a head of that type would have been used. The children now have the opportunity to visit a local park to detect. The problem, though, is that it is hard for the kids to carry all of the equipment the distance from the school to the park. A foldable wagon would make this task so much easier. It would also be easy to store in the classroom. Also, we have been taking so many photos and video of our adventures, our current computer drive can't hold any more! A new drive would allow us to continue to keep and share our photos and videos.
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