Log In

Reset Password

Special Occasions Held Throughout The School Year Focus On Science In The Elementary Schools



Text Size

Special Occasions Held Throughout The School Year Focus On Science In The Elementary Schools

By Eliza Hallabeck

“Observe our bee, children, and do exactly what she does!”

Ms Frizzle called.

The bee stuck her long tubelike tongue deep into a flower and pumped out nectar.

We each did the same with a rubber tube.

“The bee carries the nectar in a pouch called the honey stomach,” Frizzie told us.

We carried our nectar in a tiny bottle. — The Magic School Bus Inside A Beehive, by Joanne Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degan.

Whether students looked through the lens of a microscope in October at Middle Gate School or more recently at Hawley School, had experience studying caterpillars changing to butterflies at Sandy Hook School, or monitored the absorbency of a paper towel at Head O’ Meadow School, across the district students take part in science focus activities in the elementary schools.

Unlike in The Magic School Bus series, students in Newtown can not morph, transform, or shrink to follow their science experiments, but each of the math/science specialists in the district’s elementary schools agree focusing on science with specific activities, and in some cases special night events, help students understand what they are studying in a special way.


Hawley School

Hawley Elementary School held its annual fall Science Night for third and fourth grade students last Thursday, December 3, and welcomed more than 200 visitors, made up of students and parents, to the school after hours.

Across the district Science Nights and day events are held each school year to focus on science.

“It was wonderful,” said Debbie Cowden, math/science specialist at Hawley. “We had a lot of parent feedback.”

Ms Cowden said this was the fourth year the night was held in this format at Hawley. A second science night is also held at the school annually in the spring for first and second grade students.

“We like to have some time to have hands-on activities where a parent is involved,” said Ms Cowden.

Each year feedback forms are handed out for parents to complete, said Ms Cowden, “because we always want to get better.”

This year three stations were set up for Science Night at Hawley, which was due to feedback from last year. For the past couple of years four stations were set up, but on the feedback forms people complained the night lasted too long, according to Ms Cowden. This year the feedback was positive.

Stations in this year’s Science Night included a station where students could identify their finger prints, a study of worms, and a study of pollution, called “Dirty Water,” which used pond samples, shared by Middle Gate School.

Activities during a science night can be a little higher level, because parents are there working with their children, according to Ms Cowden.

Middle Gate School

At Middle Gate School, science was celebrated on October 19, and math/science specialist Pam Fagan said this week, the night was a success.

“It is a very popular night,” said Ms Fagan. “The word gets out.”

This past “What’s Under The Microscope” night was Ms Fagan’s 14th as the math/science specialist, and the largest change since the night’s inception is attendance, she said.

Ms Fagan said students enjoy seeing pond samples the most from the view of a microscope, because they can see the living organisms swimming around.

“You can’t see them with your eyes,” Ms Fagan said, “but when you look through the microscope, you see some pretty cool things.”

About 70 microscopes were set up for the special night at Middle Gate School in October, and Ms Fagan said that was a combined collection from both Hawley School and Middle Gate. More than 140 people attended the event, which focused on the 74 fourth grade students at Middle Gate’s ability to use microscopes.

Ms Fagan created the night at Middle Gate 14 years ago when she became the math/science specialist at the school. She said the idea started because, “The microscope was a tool we wanted the students to be proficient with by the fourth grade.”

Fourth grade students focus on using Brock Microscopes, a special brand of microscopes, electronic microscopes, which include using light, and eight stereoscopes, which have two eye pieces, collected by the school through Big-Y’s Education Express points program over the years.

“It takes a lot of points,” Ms Fagan said, “but over the years we have gained enough points.”

She said she is “just delighted” with the stereoscopes.

Some of the samples students look at on “What’s Under The Microscope” night are sand, fish scales, hairs from different animals, and fresh produce.

Over the 14 years, Ms Fagan said she has collected “every kind of bug you can imagine” for the night.

Sandy Hook School

“The hands-on science builds so much curiosity and understanding among the kids,” said Sandy Hook School’s math/science specialist Kris Feda.

Sandy Hook School recently held a Math Night, where groups of students broke off and went to three different sessions to play math games.

“Math night was exciting too,” said Ms Feda. “The families had fun doing math.”

She said that instead of science nights, Sandy Hook School has days where the students focus on science.

Third grade students participate in a matter day, the last one was held in October, and the fourth grade students at the school participate in a day called “Forces In Motion,” at the end of the school year. The fourth grade spends the “Forces In Motion” day rotating between teachers to learn different activities involving motion.

Other science activities that happen at Sandy Hook School during the school year include the third grade dissecting owl pellets to discover what owls eat, according to Ms Feda.

In April, Ms Feda said, the second grade students at the school will study caterpillars turning into butterflies as part of a science activity. Each science-focused activity at the school, she said, helps to develop a student’s technical writing skills, among other abilities.

When asked if there was any science activity she looks forward to each school year, Ms Feda said all of them.

“It is all so much fun, because the kids get so excited,” she said.


Head O’ Meadow

Math/science specialist Gail Maletz said Head O’ Meadow holds a combination math and science night each year for both the third and fourth grade at the school.

Head O’ Meadow first graders, under supervision by teachers, parent volunteers, and Ms Maletz, also took part in a Measurement Morning on Friday, December 11, focusing on the math skills involved in measuring objects. (See related story in this week’s edition for further details.)

During the math and science night, Ms Maletz said students analyze their finger prints for forensic science, play strategy games on SmartBoards, and more. Ms Maletz said Head O’ Meadow’s library/media specialist Joyce Kuzmick also helps to oversee a series of math games during the night.

“The entire cafetorium is filled with activities,” said Ms Maletz about the night.

Students and their parents are free to explore the school during the night at their own pace, she said.

“I just love to walk around and watch the parents and kids interacting,” said Ms Maletz.

Every year, Ms Maletz said, she is impressed by the guiding questions she witnesses parents asking their children. She said the night is important because it gives the parent an opportunity to focus on the one child.

While the night has been held at the school for years, Ms Maletz said she would be hard pressed to pick one activity that is her favorite.

Some of the activities include using microscopes, using paper towels to test absorbency, and more.

According to Ms Maletz, the night has been happening annually at the school since the 1993-1994 school year. In 1999 Ms Maletz gave a presentation at the ATOMIC Spring Conference where she shared ideas and activities from the night with teachers from throughout the state, she said.

Each year, Ms Maletz said, parents and students are asked to respond to the night by filling out an evaluation. In 1998 one responder said, “A great experience for parents to spend educational time with their children. The program proves that math and science can be fun as well as educational.”

In 2001 another responder said, “My daughter came home and created a Math/Science night for our family on Sunday. She did a great job using your ideas and it was fun.”

And during the last Math/Science night a responder said, “We had a wonderful time. We love Family Math and Science Night! Can we come back tomorrow night?”

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply