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Sandy Journal

Hands-on means minds-on for learning science at Alta View

Feb 23, 2022 06:22PM ● By Julie Slama

Alta View third-grade students investigate tulip bulbs during a hands-on science experiment. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Science isn’t textbook.

At Alta View Elementary, students roll up their sleeves to fully embrace what they were learning.

On a particular day in January, older students were being rewarded for their hard work in presenting their science fair projects where they questioned and examined subject matters that stimulate their interest.  

Questioning and seeking answers extends to all grades.

Fourth-grade students were learning firsthand with a visit from the Living Planet Aquarium.

In third grade, Thanksgiving Point education staff members taught students that learning science isn’t just under a microscope; it is science all around them as they first learned about the life cycle of a beetle, then were given an item and asked to determine what it was through dissection.

“They’re learning science is fun and they can be scientists every day,” Thanksgiving Point Education Explorer Chelle Marble said.

The Thanksgiving Point team typically takes supplies to about one-third of the state’s elementary schools’ third-graders annually to introduce them to similar investigations.

Alta View third-grade teacher Jacinda Meranda appreciates these hands-on lessons.

“They’re learning about scientific methods and learning how to work independently and with partners,” she said. “It’s piquing their interest; they’re curious and are investigating for answers.”

Meranda said that third-grade students are learning through experiments every other week from learning animal adaptations to motion and force. They also will learn about circuits, magnets, electricity, weather and the environment.

Science education is extending students’ literacy through vocabulary, reading and writing.

“They’re having so much fun that they don’t realize they’re learning,” she said. “It’s inquiry-based, not just reading a textbook and memorizing facts.”

Third-grader Oscar Torina was writing notes and making sketches in a journal during the Thanksgiving Point presentation. Then, with a plastic knife, he cut into the object that was given to him to look closer at it.

“I think it’s some kind of flower or plant. It has roots, a tunic, scales, a basal stem and in the center, a flower bud,” he said. “I think it’s a tulip.”

Oscar and other third-grade students used the scientific method and their observations to make connections.

“They’re inquiring and figuring out things,” Meranda said. “Learning through doing is empowering and engaging.”