Michelson Elementary students get hands-on science experience

Michelson Elementary fifth-grader Niko Kreisberg works to build a “house” using Giant Geometry sticks. “We had to start over because we needed a stronger base,” said Kreisberg. “We’re learning how to engineer and invent.”

Hands and brains were busy in the Michelson Elementary School gym Nov. 28 during a fun-filled visit from the Lawrence Hall of Science, a University of California, Berkeley, program that brings lively science and engineering experiences to schools.

“We believe in the cycle of design, build and test,” said visiting science educator CJ Mishima. “The day is about kids trying things out and maybe even failing and trying again; perseverance is the key. Frustration is good for finding a solution on their own and for brain development.”

Sponsored by the Michelson Parents’ Club (MPC) and manned by parent volunteers, students made self-selected rotations among the ten tabletop exhibits. Using critical thinking skills, children of every age investigated, collaborated and problem-solved with one another and on their own.

“We’re learning how to engineer and invent,” explained fifth-grader Niko Kresiberg.

Kresiberg and Josh Schuler animatedly spoke as they dismantled their Giant Geometry structure and developed a new plan.

“We had to start over because we needed a stronger base so all five of us could fit inside,” Schuler said.

As Kreisberg and his crew reworked their “house,” students across the gym fashioned paper rockets and tested their launching power, while others worked together to craft structures with Magna Tiles, Keva Planks and Bionic Blox. Conversation was lively and nobody sat idle as the morning progressed.

“The kids get social interaction and get to use their imaginations,” said parent volunteer Brittany Cockshott. “It’s super fun to see them when something clicks. This is all so cool.”

Though the event happens just once a year, the experiences enhance classroom curriculum, and fourth- and fifth-grade teachers could be heard reminding students to read the information accompanying each activity for use when lab journaling later in class.

“This is a really great hands-on learning experience for the kids; it’s really empowering for them to create from the brain. They get to learn by doing and exploring, and it’s a complement to the awesome Makerspace we have in our library,” concluded MPC President Valerie Schuler. “We are so thankful that our parent community is so fantastic and supports all of our efforts to bring these experiences to our school. Hopefully the students will enjoy it as much as the parents enjoy watching it.”

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