Fifth in a series on teachers: For many teachers, school is not out for summer, because they’re busy leading student activities and enrichment camps.
At Kino Junior High School’s Aerospace Academy, Nancy Parra-Quinlan led a class of 24 students in a lab activity to see how liquids react with different items.
“These liquids I got from different places on Mars,” said Parra-Quinlan, Kino’s career and technical education STEM teacher.
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: Kino Junior High School’s Aerospace Academy
“We don’t want what we call cross contamination,” Parra-Quinlan said. “If you use this to mix something with liquid #6, then don’t use it on liquid #1. Put a drop of the liquid in your cannister on your wax paper or aluminum foil and you can also see how they react.”
As a group of Mesa Public Schools’ students tested their liquid, one student said “Oh, I think I know.”
Then an aide asked him to describe what they did to determine that and reminded the group put their observations in their chart so they could discuss it later.
“Any other observations?” Parra-Quinlan asked the group.
“Whoa, look at the pH strip,” said one student. Then another said, “That is not what we said about the second one.”
Aerospace Academy’s first week focused on flight and the last week focused on space.
Students went on field trips to Arizona State University’s planetarium, toured Falcon Field, built their own rockets and did activities with a 25 foot by 25 foot Giant Mars Map borrowed from the Aldrin Family Foundation’s ShareSpace Education project.
Vittorio Martinez, who will be a freshman at Westwood High School this year, said it was fun and fascinating to fly small planes at the radio-controlled model airplane field, which he’s done before.
“There are different types of ways to create these planes – there’s electric where they use motors, but there’s also gas-powered ones where they use actual engines,” Martinez said.
AZEdNews Teacher Series:
Part 1: Small changes can create a safer, more inclusive, trauma sensitive school
Part 2: Film: Challenges of raising a family on a teacher’s salary continue
Part 3: Teacher training: Ways to help students
Part 4: How yoga helps students relax, focus, deal with stress
Part 5: School’s not out for teachers leading student learning activities
Part 6: What classroom supplies teachers buy and what they’d like for students
Part 7: Schools welcome back staff with rallies, learning opportunities
Part 8: New state funding helps Arizona Teachers Academy ease teacher shortage
Part 9: Possible changes ahead in what happens when a teacher leaves mid-year
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Katie Peterson, a seventh-grader at Kino Junior High, said she liked the field trips where they saw “things about airplanes and space that most people don’t get to see on a regular basis.”
Peterson said she especially liked the model airplane field, “because we got to help and fly and it was fun to sit and talk and we actually were working on building our own that we have in the classroom.”
“I, personally, love looking at the mechanics and things like how the programs work,” Peterson said.
Students at the Aerospace Academy do a lot of hands-on activities, Parra-Quinlan said
“The kids really like the fact that it’s not like school,” Parra-Quinlan said. “We don’t do a lot of worksheets or sitting and reading. We’re up doing things.”
Later in the day, volunteers from Northrop Grumman Corporation led some Aerospace Academy students in a wave activity using large coils, created pop rockets with a chemical reaction, and helped other students race balloon-propelled straws along strings to see how drag affects rockets.
Outside on the football field, Northrup Grumman engineers helped students pack parachutes in their rockets before launching them.
“What have you worked on?” a student asked an engineer.
“I’ve worked on about 10 different vehicles,” the engineer said.
The volunteers helped students put in igniters and connect leads to the launcher.
“You guys ready then? Grab your rockets and we’ll head over,” a volunteer said. “Carefully slide them on and go through your launch procedure. Make sure you keep the key out. You’ve got a light, you’re good. Three-two-one launch.”
All four of the students’ rockets shot into the sky, and the parachutes safely floated them down to the football field.
“Good job, guys!” the volunteers said.
Chandler Unified’s Destination College Program
Chandler Unified School District offers its Destination College summer program to incoming sixth graders at six of its Title I schools to expose them to the college environment at Chandler Gilbert Community College.
The students take the bus to and from their elementary schools to the college, where they spend four days a week participating in classes, student activities and experiences on campus.
“It’s a three-week camp where they get to learn about different things STEM related. They have robotics class. They do engineering stuff and then we have different guest speakers, we go on field trips and do different things with them,” said Cecilia Loera, director of the Destination College summer program.
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: Chandler Unified’s Destination College summer program
The first day of the program, students took part in a registration process on the college campus, and at the end of the program, students take part in a graduation ceremony, Loera said.
“They got their first ID here, since they don’t get one in elementary school,” Loera said. “We’re planting the seed, that this is your first time here and you can come here and go to college.”
A math professor taught a college class for the students, they took a tour around the campus, and they took a field trip to the Williams college campus to learn more about classes offered there, and the guest speakers tell students that they were once like them and show them how they can become who they want to be, Loera said.
Anthony, a student in the Destination College program, said he liked building the solar ovens the best.
“We built solar ovens and we put tinfoil and stuff to make it, and we’re going to cook stuff in it like smores,” Anthony said.
Abigail, a student taking part in the Destination College program, said she liked doing fun activities over summer break with her friends instead of sitting at home.
“I like how everyone at this school is very energetic and it never feels boring,” said Devin, a student in the Destination College program.
Later that day, students took part in a discussion with Dr. Adama Sallu, director of equity and inclusion for Chandler Unified School District.
“The day I was born my father cried,” Dr. Sallu said. “I grew up in West Africa, and girls were thought to belong to your father as a girl, as a young woman you belong to your husband, and as an old lady you belong to your son.”
Dr. Sallu said her mother and father made sure that she and her sisters went to school so that they could learn to read and write, change their lives, feed themselves and their families and find a successful pathway for the future.
Dr. Sallu encouraged the students to take part in the opportunities that school brings their way, to work hard in school and take charge of their future for themselves and their families.
“Do you believe that education is a pathway to excellence?” Dr. Sallu asked the students. “I want you to leave here today and believe in your soul that education is the pathway for me.”
Mandarin STEAM Camp at Coronado Elementary School
Students had the opportunity to improve their Mandarin speaking and writing skills while learning about STEAM and the arts this summer at Coronado Elementary School‘s Mandarin STEAM Camp.
The program is in it’s fourth year at the Higley Unified School District campus, and includes teachers from Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Primary School who teach students math, art, Mandarin language, science and music, said Brian Griggs, assistant principal at Coronado Elementary School.
Each day of camp starts with teachers reading a story in Mandarin to the students about the question for the day, then they break out into small groups where they focus on different areas including STEM, arts, calligraphy, Chinese culture, music, dance and other activities taught in Mandarin, Griggs said.
“Today, they’ll be making paper from recycled materials,” Griggs said.
Video by Mary Irish/ AZEdNews: Coronado Elementary School’s Mandarin STEAM Camp
Shijiazhuang is known nationally for its artistry in paper cutting, and “one of the best teachers is here teaching our kids the art of paper cutting,” Griggs said.
Mr. Zhuzhaolei, a Grade 5 and 6 art teacher at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Primary School, helped students as they cut intricate designs from their papers.
“Here I teach traditional Chinese Art. I really prefer the small class,” Mr. Zhuzhaolei said. “Everybody could get involved in it, and the art works of the children are awesome. I enjoy the camp so much.”
“I like that it’s super fun and we get to make Chinese paper and make cool stuff,” said McKenna, a student at the camp.
In Mrs. Zhaojing’s class, some students performed a dance while others accompanied them on an assortment of musical instruments.
“I teach Chinese music, and I am so happy to see that the children are interested in the Chinese music, dancing and some Chinese folk music culture,” said Mrs. Zhaojing, who teaches music at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Primary School for students in first- through sixth-grades.
“For example, they enjoyed the handkerchief dancing in the camp. I would like to show more Chinese musical culture to the children. I do hope they are going to have a pleasant experience here,” Mrs. Zhaojing said.
Mr. Lizhanhai, who teaches math for first- through third-graders in Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Primary School, said he enjoyed helping the students work with numbers in Mandarin, practice and use their mathematical thinking.
“I’m learning more Mandarin, and I really like to learn,” said Lizzie, a student at the camp. “I think I can read this Mandarin book. I don’t know all the words, but I’m learning them every day when I go to camp.”
Louella said she really enjoys helping the younger students at Mandarin STEAM Camp.
“What I really like about this camp is helping the students comprehend Mandarin and develop a better understanding through the STEM education,” Louella said. “I really like seeing the students clearly understand it. You can see through their facial expressions – their eyes – that they’re understanding and they’re learning it. I like helping teaching that and seeing all the students understand it more.”
“I like how we get to do activities and that we get to make paper. We get to put decorations on it,” said Madelyn, a student at Coronado Elementary School’s Mandarin STEM camp.
Mrs. Liuyahan, who used to teach Chinese at Coronado Elementary to fourth- through sixth-graders but is now in charge of the school library, helped students as they worked on science activities, teaches students Mandarin and reads science story books to students.
“I also put some Chinese cultral things in my class,” said Mrs. Liuyahan. “As you can see the Chinese decorations here and show kids the tea culture in China. I really enjoy the days with the children, and their Mandarin is great so that it’s easy to communicate with them.”
Avondale Elementary’s Summer Band Academy
Avondale Elementary School District hosted a three-week Avondale Summer Band Academy at Desert Thunder School in Goodyear that included opportunities for beginning band students and advanced musicians throughout the school district.
“Our Summer Band Academy, this is our second year of actually doing it,” said Marietta Swim, a general music and band teacher at Desert Star School.
“Mr. Hillius, my other colleague, had brought it to the administration about extending the band program throughout the summer months so we could start kids on instruments and get them used to playing,” Swim said. “As well as our advanced kids, so they have the opportunity to continue playing and continue working on their skills throughout the summer months.”
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: Avondale Summer Band Academy
The band camp is open to all the schools in the district, so students get a chance to meet each other and learn together with like instruments and share their experiences, Swim said.
“We’re looking forward to continuing it for the next couple of years,” Swim said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going and get more students actively involved in it and successful.”
Toward the end of Avondale Summer Band Academy, students did warm ups together as a group, before launching into playing.
“We’re going to do our whole note line, then the half note line,” Swim said to the student orchestra. “Remember those eighth notes, how are we going to keep them together? What are we going to do?”
Then one student told Swim what they could do.
After playing several songs together, a few band members took time to share what they liked best about Avondale Summer Band Academy.
Adrian, an 8th grader in Summer Band Academy, said what he likes about Summer Band is being able to get out of the house and learn a new instrument.
“I started off playing guitar, but that has died down a little bit,” Adrian said. “When my Mom heard about this, I was all psyched up and now I’m playing clarinet and I love it.”
As Swim worked with students on another song, another student shared what she liked about Avondale Summer Band Academy.
“I like the fact that we can play different instruments,” said Larenia, a student taking part in the Summer Band Academy “I play the flute and the piccolo. Right now I’m practicing my flute, because my piccolo broke. I really like this because it can give others a learning chance, and advanced kids can come here and help beginners learn more.”
She also said she liked getting more practice so you’re more ready for the next year in band. Larenia said she plans to be in marching band in the fall at Desert Edge High School.
“This is just a really great learning experience for advanced and beginners even intermediate, because not many schools will have an education system for music or art,” Larenia said. “This is one of those opportunities, you can go here and learn music.”