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Peachland gets new science lab

Funding from various sources makes hands-on learning possible for students

Posted: February 8, 2010 10:41 p.m.
Updated: February 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

From left to right, Peachland Elementary School students Laura Steffy, Zayra Chavez, Jesus Hernandez and Alaina Ossenkop try out a science experiment in the school's new lab.

 
Students at Peachland Elementary School are making discoveries about the world of science in a whole new way with the addition of a state-of-the-art science laboratory on campus.

With the funding help from the Peachland Elementary Educational Foundation and the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation, the new lab opened in January to provide students an interactive educational experience in the field of science.

The space was designed to engage students through the use of learning technology and modern scientific equipment for experiments.

But teachers and administration hypothesize that this kind of hands-on learning environment will produce results for a lifetime outside of the lab.

“These kids are so excited about this experience and it is wonderful to see,” Johnson said. “They are learning by doing, which makes such an impact. What they learn here builds a strong foundation for the future in many ways because the students are contributors not just to the school, but to the community as a whole.”

The initiative to form the lab was sparked and the space was converted from an old classroom no longer in use.

Dedicated volunteer efforts of community members aided faculty, parents and students in giving the space a complete renovation.

With spacious laboratory tables, a water service station and high-powered microscopes, learning-by-doing became accessible.

But class instruction will never be the same now that students have the technologically advanced learning tool of a Promethean Board to interact with during lessons.

Science teacher Kelly Soto knows why the board will come in handy in hands-on learning.

“This board is just another tool we can use to expand on what is being taught. The kids love looking at it because it’s electronic and so engaging,” Soto said. “But it is just part of the whole picture we are learning in the lab every day — that you can play and learn at the same time. That, to me, is the answer.”

Soto teaches developmentally appropriate science curriculum to all grades at the school and has seen her fair share of positive responses to this learning environment so far.

The classes are conducted on a rotating schedule three times a week and Soto feels that connections are being made with each new discovery.

One student is glad that the methods of this lab time are on the agenda.

“I didn’t really like science before this,” said sixth-grade student, Natalie Delgado, 11. “It’s better to be doing the experiments instead of just reading about them in a book. There is a lot more stuff to do here and more space to do it in!”

Prior to the opening of the lab, science instruction was taught in the homeroom of each class, limiting students to the access they had to certain experimental processes.

“I feel like if I didn’t actually do the experiments, I wouldn’t know what they mean for real life,” sixth-grade student, Trevor Sheldon, 12, said. “Now we can use what we learn when we leave the lab. I am really glad to have that before I go to junior high.”

Faculty and administration know that this learning environment is helping the students to grasp scientific concepts, while preparing them to apply what they’ve learned in the years to come.

Teacher Rachelle Lopez had her own thoughts on the subject of science applied to life.

“With a space that is dedicated specifically to science, we are giving students more opportunity to learn about the field in their lives,” Lopez said.

“It fires the kids up and you can see their excitement. Now there is a whole new world opening up to them that they never thought was possible before.”

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