PATERSON, NJ – The downstairs hall in Paterson School 27 was transformed into a laboratory on Monday as 4th grade students conducted several experiments related to the properties of water.
The lesson, led by “Lava Liz” and “Galaxy Gray”, both instructors with the S.P.A.R.K.S. Foundation, was made possible through funding from Ametek Foundation. The nearly $50,000 grant allows for the program to be run a total of 15 weeks over two school years. This is the second time School 27 has received the grant and participated in the program.
Between chants of “science rocks” students conducted several experiments during the 45 minute lesson including constructing a water molecule out of marshmallows and testing various properties of water such as surface tension, adhesion and cohesion.
Reminded by their instructors that “science is about observing, not guessing,” students were asked to offer their own hypotheses on how water would react under a number of circumstances before testing their theories.
Saying that “science is the basis of good, inquisitive learning,” Gracene Sirianno, who teaches under the name “Galaxy Gray,” suggested that allowing the children to work on their own, outside of the classroom is important because “hands on works for all learning styles.”
The program, Sirianno added, allows them to “own their own education.”
Teacher Nikki Kelly, whose students were among those that participated in the lesson, said that the “experiments make the text books come to life.” After again insuring that each of her student’s white lab coats were securely in place she added that by being hands on they will better remember what they do.
Participating students were allowed to take home the water dropper they used during their experiments which one 4th grader, “Aluminum Andrew,” said meant that he could show his family "so they could learn also.”
Asked specifically about how the day’s lesson applied outside of school another student smartly pointed out that “rain spreads everywhere,” important to know in urban and built up settings like Paterson.
“Year Yamira” paused only briefly when asked about the teachers at School 27 who she said were “kind and intelligent,” attributes she said make her “comfortable to learn.”
Students in grades one, two and three will also participate in the program throughout the week.