Exploring the World’s Phenomena with Scientists

Exploring the World’s Phenomena with Scientists

January 14, 2015

By Anna Mills

Teachers around the world hear questions from their students such as, “Why does this matter?” or “Why should I care?” Earth Explorers, a STEM enrichment course at Trail Ridge, answers these questions directly through quality programming and exciting opportunities for students. We bring scientists into the classroom and they conduct experiments with our 6thgraders that are related to their professional research. (There is a 7th and 8thgrade class of Earth Explorers at Trail Ridge as well with a slightly different format). There are between 6 and 10 scientists each quarter who have dedicated their time to sharing both their research and their passion for the sciences with our students. The students go through the scientific process with their professional mentor throughout the experiment while documenting their findings. It is the students’ responsibility to present their learning and results at our premier night at the end of the quarter. While they may choose any medium with which to present their material, most participants choose iMovie.

A few of the objectives for this course are for students to build their professional and interpersonal skills and to learn how to present information to an audience.  When our students are introduced to their scientists for the first time, they conduct an interview to learn about their scientist personally, about their research, and about the experiment they are going to conduct during class. Next, they meet after school to perform their experiment – a process the students find very engaging. The experimental topics range from air pollution to light diffraction with lasers to solar panels to rockets and so much more. The wrap up is the most important piece in my opinion; this is when the students are able to meet with their scientists after they perform their experiment. They are able to discuss what they learned and ask the questions they developed during their session. Finally, each group presents their experiment using iMovie or another medium at our TRMS Earth Explorers premiere night. Listening to student feedback on this exciting evening, I’ve heard statements such as, “I loved working with REAL scientists” and “I thought all scientists were old guys with gray hair, but I found out they can be cool young people”. It is extremely satisfying to watch their perceptions change as they question their own assumptions about science and possibly their own future.

On this page, please find the top two movies shown at our 2nd quarter premiere night. Please watch them to see the amazing things our TRMS students have learned! Keep your eye out for our 3rd quarter exemplars, which will be uploaded at the start of quarter 4.

To learn more about Earth Explorers at Trail Ridge, visit the story on the school's site here.