Third in a series on teachers and what they do during the summer: For many teachers, school is not out for summer, because they’re busy leading student learning 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: Film: Challenges of raising a family on a teacher’s salary continue
Part 2: Teacher training: Ways to help students
Part 3: School’s not out for teachers leading student learning activities
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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.