Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning By Doing in Cal Poly's Labs

This week, the girls enjoyed a day of hands-on exploration in Cal Poly's Learn By Doing Lab. The fully interactive day was led by outstanding Poly student volunteers. They offered boundless energy, enthusiasm and senses of humor.

The girls and dozens of other students began their day by donning lab coats and entering the lab where discussion focused on elements and atoms, covalent bonds and reactions. After a brief discussion of the topic at hand, the students were quickly put to work creating bonds of their own through cooperative games of Octet. Then the discussion turned to acid versus base chemicals, and a related hands-on experiment that provided welcome refreshment to some students, while bringing some serious pucker to others.

After some chemical-induced "booms," the group headed to the soils laboratory for a discussion of the water cycle, and finally experiments related to percolation and pH levels (measure of acidity and basicity of a solution) in local water sources.

After lunch one of Cal Poly's welcoming lawns (where I overheard another fourth-grader say, "This is such a welcoming campus. It's so homey here!), we headed to Kennedy Library for a tour of student artwork. The special exhibit focused on kinesthetic energy - perfect art for active kids. The students were asked to view the art, and try to determine its source of movement before guides gave away the answers. And, finally, the students were invited to make their own kinesthetic artwork - and left holding their homemade pinwheels, perfect parting gifts on another blustery springtime day.

Thanks, Cal Poly, for another great day on campus!

I was pleased to see the girls actively taking part in these discussions and projects throughout the day.

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