From kindergarten to fifth grade, all Old Kings students learn about marine science.
None of Margaret Campanella’s fourth-grade students are in their seats. They are talking, dropping things in water, floating golf balls, zipping robots across the floor and having a good time; and that’s just fine with their teacher because they are doing something else – they’re learning.
For 45-minutes the children are immersed in science -- hands-on science and absorbing it like little sponges.
“In my class when something is new they need time just to explore it and learn about it.” Margaret Campanella Old Kings Elementary school teacher
“This is all brand new; we just started this year,” Campanella said. “Our new principal, Mr. Osypian, wants to focus on marine life and tie it into all of the components of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).
In one area Tanner Johnson is using a probe scope to look inside a starfish. The image is displayed on a laptop in front of him.
“I can see its stomach and other stuff,” Tanner explained as he gently rotated the camera end of the probe around an opening in the dried starfish.
Across the room Amelia Palmer is one of several students building boats out of Pringles cans with newspaper sails, and testing them in a free-standing tub of water.
“It has to float and have a certain amount of mass,” Campanella said.
Plastic robots with flashing lights dart across the floor as the students learn by doing, and not always sending them where they intended.
“They are going to be programming them with apps that tell the robot what to do,” she said. “For all of these students this is new, and in my class when something is new they need time just to explore it and learn about it.”
The class is getting ready for S.T.E.A.M. night on Thursday, Nov. 19. The night will be a curriculum night for students to show their parents what they are doing in science, technology, engineering and math.
“This is the first time the night will be focused on marine life,” Campanella said. “Sea Ray will talk to the kids that day and come back at night and show how they build a boat because we want to tie into some engineering aspects.”
The entire school will be involved as each grade level will have a station with a display or a hands-on activity for the parents.
“The events will focus on marine life and how a career in marine studies doesn’t have to be fishing, it can be building a boat or collecting data like they are doing,” Campanella said.
At some point in the year every student at Old Kings Elementary will be in Campanella’s class.
“They rotate through and when this group comes back to me in January they will get into programming the robots. I will see the entire school. Even the kindergarten and first grade use the dash and dot robots.”
Being able to use equipment is an important aspect of their studies.
“Many of these kids have never seen a microscope or a triple beam balance,” she said as she looked around the room of students in motion. “They are definitely engaged.”
Campanella told the students she would not be in class the next day.
“Principal Osypian and I are going to Mayport Elementary in Jacksonville,” she said. “That school is all marine science, not just one class, and we want to see what they do.”
Just like the budding scientists they are, the students turned in their team data sheets and lined up to return to their core class, making room for the next class to explore and discover.