By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – When you were in sixth grade, did you know what “combustion” meant?
Sixth-graders at Milam Elementary School do, along with a host of other scientific principles demonstrated at the school’s fourth annual Science Fun Day.
The program travels around to different schools in the area, setting up 30 booths of three-minute scientific experiments. Parents administer the experiments and ask critical-thinking questions to test the students’ comprehension.
“You can tell they are learning because there six classes in this gym at once, but you can still hold a conversation,” said Marrion Winders, a science teacher at the sixth-grade-only school.
Students rotate from station to station in groups of six, facilitating small-group dynamics and peer-to-peer learning.
Parent Cindy Black manned the station demonstrating combustion, and said these experiments help kids see science in everyday life.
“One kid who came through said he worked on his four-wheeler all the time and totally understood this station,” she said.
For parents, Science Fun Day allows a look into their children’s lives during the day. And it allows them to meet their children’s friends and teachers.
Dr. John Hunt, professor of teacher education and leadership at Mississippi College, helped develop the program in the 1990s.
“All of these experiments are helping meet the criteria for the Next Generation of Science Standards, which is a curriculum focused on the application and practical understanding of scientific principles,” he said.
The standards feature an engineering component, tasking students to use what they have learned to build something.
“Not only do they have to build, say a rocket or a solar-powered car, but they will have to know how it works, and how to build it most efficiently,” Hunt said.
According to Hunt, the Next Generation of Science Standards is in its final draft and will go before President Barack Obama for approval in February.