Highcroft Drive Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week
PROGRAM: Soil Rocks
Scientist: Sarah Green
Monday isn’t anyone’s favorite day, and the first Monday after daylight savings time is particularly hard, but a fantastic group of first graders at Highcroft Drive Elementary turned my day around! It was a chilly morning, and as I unpacked my bins for the start of our program “Soil Rocks!” I looked up at the darkening sky. Once inside I was met by the warm front office staff, and sent on my way down the quiet halls to the first grade wing. The bright hallways looked welcoming as I wound my way down to the 300’s and all the first grade teachers were in the halls ready to greet me, and any incoming students for the morning. What a nice surprise!
As I got settled in and began unpacking, my first grade scientists started to arrive. Already I could tell they were ready for the day! They were reading books, getting settled in, finishing work, and occasionally looking over their shoulders to see if they could figure out what I was up to! When the bell rang they were in their seats and looking eagerly in my direction. “Good morning scientists” I said, and in an excited chorus they replied “Good morning!” We were off to a great start.
Soil Rocks! Is a program about geology, a study of the earth and its physical structure. I knew I had a special group when I asked “Who cares about dirt? Why do we study it? Why is soil and dirt so important?” and every hand in the class went up! They had so much to share, and so many personal stories about when and how they use plants and interacted with rocks. Several even shared that they had their own rock collection started already! I was amazed, and my amazement only grew as we investigated parts of soil, checked out some live decomposers, and even learned why the soil in our own backyards was so special! But the real excitement, and where I truly saw my scientists shine, was when we did our rocks and minerals excavation. Even in the dark of the “cave” we were digging in, I could see the gleaming eyes of students eager to learn, happy to work together, and excited to be exploring and discovering their own rocks and minerals. “Wow, check this out Scientist Sarah!” “You won’t believe what I found!” “Come here! I think I got a diamond!!” “Look how smooth and shiny this one is!” “Cool, look at yours!” “I love this so much!” These were just a few of the sentiments I heard as I wound my way among the digging scientists. There’s nothing I love to see more than a group of scientists feeling pride and excitement in what they are doing.
There were so many great moments from Monday, but the comment that most touched my heart was just as I was packing up to leave. Each scientist had a bag of rocks and minerals they had found (all on their own!) and were putting away as I prepared for my next class. Then, one student who had been quiet the whole class came up to me and said “I think I might like science now.” Then she and her friend walked away, smiling and talking about what we had done that morning. We forget that it’s easy to enjoy something you are familiar with or are good at, but when a student succeeds and feels triumphant after an experiment that was difficult or new, that is what makes a transformative experience. The first grade scientists I worked with on Monday were amazing, and their joy and excitement turned my day around. I loved the enthusiasm the first grade classes at Highcroft Drive Elementary brought to their in-school field trip, and I hope they will continue to believe in themselves and not be afraid to try new things, especially in science! I can’t wait to go back and work with them some more as they prepare to become world changers!