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Shocking Science Lesson For Students

POSTED October 6, 2009 3:15 p.m.

Fourth graders in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District learned a “shocking” lesson about electricity recently. Shocking Electricity is a science program collaboration between MID and the Great Valley Museum. The 90-minute presentations given by Chris Schmidt and Jon Stout of the Great Valley Museum covered fourth grade electricity standards and gave hands-on experiences to students.

“These labs are the best way to motivate and teach students about science,” said Fair Oaks fourth grade teacher Lisa Graham. “To see the enthusiasm in the kids is exciting. They learn so much more when they can touch, feel, and experiment. They are not afraid to try new things and it helps them work together.”

Michelle Duttera, also a fourth grade teacher at Fair Oaks, said her students had a blast and she was amazed at how attentive, well-behaved, and engrossed they were during the presentation. She also said her students worked cooperatively, as well, which was important because they needed to share in order to help each other.

Students learned about electricity and static electricity, conductors, insulators, open and closed circuits, the number of volts in a plug outlet, power sources in California, what makes electricity, and more. In a hands-on lab, the fourth graders used wires, batteries, and miniature light bulbs in various ways to try to get a bulb to light up.

“They also experimented with numerous mystery objects such as plastic, foil, and a paper clip to see which ones would be conductors or insulators after first making predictions,” Duttera explained. “As if those activities weren’t enough, the students had time to experiment with making exciting things ‘turn on’ such as pinwheel fans, buzzers...”

The ending activity gathered the entire class of students to form a large circle by holding hands without touching any clothing. This allowed them to experience how electricity flowed through them by causing a small plastic ball to make a siren noise.

“As a teacher, having someone with expertise in a field present material to my students is the best,” Graham added. “The students learn so much more and have so much fun.”

Duttera concurred with Graham about how much having an expert presenter helps her students.

“I felt incredibly blessed to have my students learn firsthand about the wonderful scientific phenomenon of electricity, one of our fourth grade standards,” Duttera said. “This experience really helped my students grasp this important concept.”

OJUSD science teacher Anne Marie Bergen reported that these presentations have been made for approximately six years in the district free of charge.

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