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College students make science fun
A CSU Stanislaus student helps an Osborn Elementary School fourth grader arrange home made play dough into molecule models on Wednesday. CSU Stanislaus students were at the elementary school giving a guest science lesson to fourth and second grade students. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
Play Dough Recipe
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kool-Aid (any flavor)
3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Mix water, salt, oil and enough Kool-Aid to make a bright color. Gradually add flour and cornstarch until the mixture reaches the consistency of bread dough. Store in a sealed plastic bag.

Students at Osborn Elementary love to get their hands dirty in the name of science. Fourth graders in Celia Montes’ class got the opportunity to do just that when they made their own play dough molecules on Wednesday.

California State University, Stanislaus students guest-taught this special science lesson as part of their Chemistry in an Elementary School Classroom  class. The college students are all pre-service teachers working towards their credentials. As part of their educational program, these future teachers spend time in elementary classrooms giving lessons that they help to prepare.

On Wednesday, the college class showed Osborn Elementary students how to follow a recipe to make their own play dough from common kitchen ingredients, including Kool-Aid as a food coloring. College students then guided the elementary students through building models of simple molecular structures using play dough and toothpicks. The lesson was prepared by Koni Stone’s biochemistry class last semester and was specifically geared towards fourth and fifth grade students.  

Stone said that the lesson taught much more than just science and molecular structure. It also taught elementary students how to follow directions, how to read a recipe and how to properly measure ingredients. Stone said that students learn and remember the lesson better when they have hands-on involvement.

“We want to reinforce that you can read, write, and learn science all at the same time,” Stone said.

The CSU Stanislaus students did one classroom visit during the summer semester. During winter and fall the students in Stone’s classes will make up to five separate visits to elementary school classrooms.

Susan Fisher, assistant principal at Osborn, said that the school welcomes student teachers because they are positive role models for the younger students. They also provide educational activities that the students might not have in their regular curriculum.

“I’d like to see more of it,” Fisher said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.