Touring Austin Elementary last Friday morning was a lesson in adventure, as I had the opportunity to witness so many authentic, engaging learning experiences taking place in our classrooms. From kindergarten to fifth grade, educators all over the building were responding to Mr. Hilton's challenge to "wade deeper into the E-Time pool." The energy was palpable as the learners were captivated by the various challenges set before them.
Of course, with my background in the world of science, I was particularly drawn to the sprinkling of science questions that some of our younger explorers were investigating. In kindergarten, students were using their powers of observation to collect data about several mystery objects. After using their senses to collect the data they needed, these young scientists then made bold conjectures about what the objects might be. The conclusions may not have always been accurate, but the learning was right on track!
From there, I moved to first grade where keeping boats afloat was the goal of the day. Learners in first grade were eagerly exploring the buoyancy of a variety of objects and making predictions about which objects would sink and which would float. Others were involved in a collaborative effort to design a boat that would support the biggest load of marbles without sinking. I'm wondering if we are witnessing the emergence of some future engineers!
Finally, I headed into third grade where I found towers made of spaghetti being constructed in Mrs. Burton's class, as student engineers attempted to design the tallest tower possible that would still support the weight of a marshmallow. These tasty towers were a sight to see! I heard lots of great conversations about structure and foundation, but I believe these young learners are still working on this daunting task.
In Mr. Wu's class, I had to take cover as the learning EXPLODED throughout the room! These young scientists were investigating the effect of combining Alka Seltzer and soda in a closed system. The learners were forming hypotheses and even identifying variables as they systematically made changes to their design. In fact, they were so excited, they even brainstormed a list of questions they want to explore next week!
As you can see, the learning during E-Time last Friday abounded! The students were engaged, excited, enthusiastic...I could go on and on! And through it all, they were EXPLORING...LEARNING...INVESTIGATING...and loving every minute of it!