When Iris Haapanen explains the sciences to her teaching credential students at California State University, Stanislaus she tells them to look around: look at the stars, at the trees, at the carbonation in soda — it’s all science. This spirit of consciousness is the same dynamic that Haapanen aims to recreate at the annual CSUS Science Fun Nights at Osborn Elementary school.
Wednesday evening marked the first evening in the series of free, hands-on science events for Osborn students facilitated by Haapanen’s credential students. From explosive volcanoes to the static electricity generated from rubbing a balloon on your head, local elementary students were able to not only learn but experience the building blocks of science.
“The kids love it. We saw ages from five years old to fifth graders, the students and their siblings really have a good time,” said first year credential student Emily Campbell.
While the objective is to get children excited about science, the Science Fun Nights also serve as instrumental instructional moments for the credential students. Emphasizing the “Five E’s” lesson model which highlights engaging, exploring, expanding, explaining and evaluating, credential students were able to practice not only theory but content in a simulated classroom environment. As groups of elementary students rotated between the seven stations, the students were able to practice what Haapanen preaches.
“It’s a challenge for the credential students because they are teaching students of different ages and content levels,” said Haapanen, who explained the experiments at each station to parents as well in the hopes that parents would recreate the experiments at home because “when there is parent involvement, students improve,” she said.
Haapanen’s insistence on parent inclusion has helped created a positive reputation for the CSU Stanislaus Science Fun Nights program, which has been an annual series at Osborn Elementary for more than six years, and draws parents to return with their children each spring.
“Every year we come. We began when my son was in about second grade. She loves it,” said Rocio Alba, mother of Osborn fourth grader Frida Alba who favored the volcano that “erupted” with baking soda and vinegar.
CSU Stanislaus Science Fun Nights for Osborn students will continue from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. each Wednesday until May 7, except for April 23. While the entire series is science themed, the activities will change each week.