Our outreach program focused on fifth grade students participating in hands-on experiments instructed by iGEM SUNY Oneonta team members. The objective was to spark interest in science while fulfilling New York State required learning outcomes for fifth graders.
This educational outreach program consisted of an interactive presentation and hands-on station workshops. Each workshop included systematic observation, measurement, experiment, and the formulation and testing of a hypothesis.
Students also participated in survey experiment called “The Challenge”. The purpose of this survey was to gather evidence on the understanding and learning that students gained from the program.
Topics covered included the following:
- The Scientific Method
- Different Fields in Science
- States of Matter
- Changes in Matter
- Basic Thermodynamics
Students exercised their understanding of the scientific method by observing, predicting, and recording results. The focus of the lesson was on understanding the different states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas, as well as comprehending changes of state in matter including melting, evaporation, sublimation, and freezing.
The hands-on program covered thermodynamics and how molecules are arranged in a solid, liquid, or gas. They were also asked to predict the outcome when the application of heat or pressure is added, basing their predictions based on the trends they observed.
The Challenge Results
The Challenge is a quiz comprised of five multiple choice questions. The quiz was taken before the program and then once again after the program. The objective of this quiz is to determine what the students know and if the students were able to gain new knowledge as a result of this program.
The educational outreach program focused on delivering a fun and memorable learning opportunity for the students.
Throughout the program the students were engaged and generated a wide variety of questions. Questions were encouraged because they reflects student attention and interest in the topic.
During the experiment station portion of the experiment, students showed much excitement, which was clearly expressed to each team member by the students. The Nitrogen Ice cream and the Rocket Reaction experiments were particularly popular.
The students showed much appreciation for the program by consistently thanking our team members. While the team was getting ready to leave, students came up to a few members and gave them high fives.
This program was a memorable event for the elementary students because it engaged them in more than just sitting in a classroom. They were introduced to new ideas and concepts that will be reinforced as they progress in their education.
Throughout this activity, the team member leader of the program observed what could be changed to make the program run more efficiently. The first improvement we can make is increasing the amount of time set aside to run this program. Originally, we estimated that the program would take around one hour. We found that the program actually took one hour and a half to complete. If this program was to be delivered again, we would inform the teacher and principal that the time required is estimated to be 90 minutes.
The second improvement we can make involves conducting The Challenge at a better time. The post-program quiz was given to students as a ticket to get nitrogen ice cream. The students were informed that to get ice cream they must complete the quiz. Several students answered as quickly as they could because they wanted to get ice cream as quickly as possible. The students rushing may have had a negative impact our assessment results.