ROCKLAND — Superintendent Alan Cron and Principal Elizabeth Bohn are pleased to share some of the creative ways the John W. Rogers Middle School has engaged science students this year through virtual field trips and individual science kits to encourage hands-on learning.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, eighth grade students at the school were able to take part in the Boston Museum of Science’s virtual field trip, “Virtual Universe: Seasons and Phases.” The virtual presentation explored the relationship between the Earth, the Moon and the Sun. To keep students engaged the presenter used a model of the Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and the seasons.
Students were able to further interact with the presenter through the “chat” feature. The students were able to answer questions posed by the presenter and to also ask their own questions.
The field trip was free of charge to students due to the generosity of several Museum of Science sponsors. A total of 50 students attended on Feb. 23 and the remainder of eighth grade students will attend later in the year.
“This virtual field trip was a great experience for our eighth grade students,” eighth grade teacher Laura Stracco said. “It has been a while since students could go on a field trip, and during this virtual trip students were extremely engaged. The presenter did a fantastic job of making this presentation interactive.”
“These virtual field trips are extremely successful for us as teachers because they keep students engaged and provide students with experiences outside of the classroom,” eighth grade teacher Nick DiRenzo said. “I cannot wait to be able to tie this virtual field trip experience into my curriculum this March and provide my students a different learning style.”
Rogers Middle School has also experimented with more hands-on science learning this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. DiRenzo and Stracco received funding from the Rockland Education Foundation to purchase Lab-Aids Hands-on@Home Science Kits.
The funding provided by the Rockland Education Foundation has given all eighth grade students access to participate in hands-on science activities during a time when sharing supplies is discouraged. In past years, four or five students have had to share a single lab station during an activity. Each student now is able to fully participate in every aspect of an activity, which allows for a higher degree of engagement. The kits are also reusable and will be used in future years to allow for more hands-on science learning.
The Rockland Education Foundation funded the purchase of 100 kits in each of three units: Force and Motion, Chemistry of Materials, and Solar System and Beyond. These kits allow investigations to take place without sharing supplies and reduce the need to sanitize between classes. Each kit contains five to seven activities.
The department is currently exploring other funding sources for additional kits, which would support upcoming units on geological processes, human body systems, genetics, weather and climate and evolutionary biology.
“These kits have greatly enhanced the classroom experience this year and we look forward to their continued use,” Principal Bohn said. “During a difficult year, all of our Rogers teachers have looked for ways to provide further engagement for students and have gone above and beyond to continue to provide the best services to our students.”