By Cassaundra Bell
With the end of the year approaching, it’s hard to imagine that a fifth grade student would willingly give up multiple recess breaks. However, that’s exactly what a group of 5th graders at Valley View Elementary have done, in order to become science professors for a day in Camp Science.
“You have to step up and sacrifice if something is important to you,” student Liam Watters explains. “You have to step up and get the job done.”
Camp Science, which is an extracurricular activity for students and teachers alike, grants fifth graders the chance to teach first through fourth grade students for a day. Preparations for this camp lasts a month, and allows the fifth graders time to research and teach a scientific experiment. Students write their own lesson plans and create teaching materials – like quizzes, games or coloring books. On the day of Camp Science, they must be ready to teach the experiment to younger students.
Through the investigations, fifth grade students were able to teach a variety of scientific concepts. In one investigation, students powered a clock with potatoes, and this taught electrochemical energy. In another investigation, the students made Lava in a cup to show the density of oil, salt and water.
“They are just so cool when they are teaching,” Fifth grade teacher Phyllis King says. This is King’s second year as the teacher directly responsible for Camp Science, and she has collaborated with the project in the past. “I see how much learning kids get from Camp Science. There is a lot of growth, in a lot of different areas. I see the students growing in their maturity, their responsibility, and their leadership.”
Fifth grader Phylisia Winters says, “It’s a great experience for fifth graders and little kids.”
Fellow student Bella Calabrese adds, “You’re learning more when you’re teaching others.”
This year, Camp Science faced elimination. A handful of students from Ms. King’s class signed a petition to show their interest in the program.
“I’ve been looking forward to Camp Science ever since first grade. I knew that I always wanted to be a part of it,” Kelsey DeYoung explains her reasons for signing the petition, and for becoming a Camp Science professor.
The students asked Ms. King to be their Camp Science supervising teacher, a responsibility that would require additional hours of preparation and facilitation on her part, but one that she was excited to fill. “It’s something I always believed in,” says King.
On the day of Camp Science, the fifth graders become “professors” and completely play the part. They wear over-sized t-shirts that they have decorated in art class, and these are their lab coats. Additionally, the “professors” may wear their hair in crazy, “mad scientist” styles.
“It’s a magical day,” King says. “And I always tell the students that behind every bit of magic, there is science.”
Ms. King’s dedication to the Camp Science program at Valley View is only one of the many unique examples of how Rockford teachers are committed to achieving a standard of educational excellence for their students every single day.