Imagine that your elementary school science teacher loved to blow things up, shoot objects into space, and alter the weather in the classroom, just for starters. Then envision a weekly science class that involved tearing apart various household appliances and learning how to make your own batteries – from dirt, for example. You would probably hop, skip and jump your way to class, which is how most Phoenix Rising students feel about Science Lab.
While science is disappearing from many elementary schools nationwide (see related article), at Phoenix Rising students as young as five learn basic scientific concepts and apply them in hands-on ways that are relevant to everyday life. For our yearly Science Fair, students create a hypothesis, conduct an experiment and come up with a conclusion, all around a subject of their choice. Outside community members with scientific backgrounds come in to judge the fair, and prizes are awarded to the top three entries at each grade level.
Weekly lessons are integrated with core subjects for each class; 5th and 6th graders studying the Renaissance might learn about the movements of the planets along with Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus. Over the course of a year, students can learn how to make a battery using a simple circuit, LED light and battery; how to make lightning in the classroom as part of a unit on weather; how to create their own “stomp rockets” using simple plastic soda bottles and PVC pipe; how to make a catapult as part of a lesson on leverage; and how to make their own microphones and solar water heaters. By the time most graduate from 6th grade, they know more than the average adult about how things work.