Though it’s only the second day of school, eighth graders in Lisa Giddings’ science class at Dempsey Middle School are already on their second science experiment.
Giddings said on Wednesday, the first day of the school year, students were given n lab that required them to take six plastic cups, stack them into a pyramid, and then put then back in a stack of six only using rubber bands and strings. Giddings said the lab was designed to let students have fun while learning to work as a team.
Thursday’s lab involved students saving Sam (a gummy worm) from drowning by using only paper clips to wrap a gummy Lifesaver around the worm, like a life preserver.
“It’s the scientific method. They have a problem. They have to look at the different ways at solving the problem, and they have to modify along the way,” Giddings said.
Students weren’t allowed to touch Sam the worm or the life preserver with their hands, so they had to use the paper clips to stretch the gummy circle and move Sam into it.
The life-saving efforts were all for naught, as the teams were allowed to eat Sam at the end of the lab.
Skylar Daft and Diane Price completed the assignment fairly quickly.
“It was fun. The lifesaver kept popping off,” Daft said. “I learned how to put Lifesavers on a gummy worm. We haven’t really done much science, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
Giddings said the labs teach more than just the scientific method, they also teach teamwork and communication.
“Science is collaborative. We have this idea that scientists are in their little labs by themselves but no, we work together and communicate,” Giddings said. “We are teaching these skills now so this is natural to them (in later, more complex experiments.)”
Giddings said the labs may be silly now, but they will evolve throughout the school year. Giddings added she aims to do at least one lab a week.
“I like that they still have fun with it,” Giddings said. “It’s a little immature for them, but they are so engaged the whole time they are doing it. I want them involved in doing the science as much as I can. That’s how they are going to learn the best, by doing them.”
Jeremiah Rutherford and Ethan Long also completed the assignment and said it took lots of work to get it right.
“There were a lot of failures,” Rutherford said. “It was kind of stupid in a good way.”
Serenity Perez, another student in the class, said she was glad to be doing experiments and labs so early in the school year.
“A lot of teachers wait a long time before you start projects,” Perez said. “A lot of teachers don’t do projects, you do things online instead of doing them. (I’d rather) do it hands on. You understand it more if you do it.”
Perez’s partner, Maddie Jack, added she also enjoyed the experiment.
“Middle school kids come to science with a lack of enthusiasm,” Giddings said. “I want them to know science can be fun and science is engaging, and I want them to know that’s what our year is going to be. The best way to learn science is by doing science. Why not get them engaged day one, instead of just lecturing them.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.