Students at the Van Nest Academy will now have a hands-on experience in science that should help them with state exams they face in the fourth and eighth grades.
They now have two mobile science carts that enable them to use the latest in digital software while conducting experiments in the classroom and in various locations as the carts are portable.
The carts were dedicated in 7th grade science teacher Borris Lazarev’s classroom on Tuesday, May 22.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who got a $60,000 City Council grant for the two carts, made by A+ Mobile Solutions of Bay Shore, N.Y., was on hand to have his heart rate measured by a electronic sensor. “We are hoping at various grade levels that this is going to enhance the ability of the students to think critically - to understand how one thing leads to the other and what variables can be involved.” Vacca said. “Science develops critical thinking skills, which can be used in a wide variety of subjects.”
The carts allow students to go on field trips to collect data, returning to the classroom to analyze it, said Van Nest Academy principal Carol Ann Gilligan.
She used the example of using a microscope to project something being studied by a science class.
“The digital presenter on the cart connects to the microscope and it allows the entire class to see what the teacher has to show them,” Gilligan said. “In the past, the teacher would call each child up individually to look at the microscope, and hope that the children are seeing the same thing that the teacher wants them to see.”
The technological improvements to instruction that will be offered by the mobile science labs should give students a leg up on their standardized science tests.
The hands-on approach is necessary because those state exams require both a written and a practical component, Gilligan said. The carts’ electric hand-held devices help for more interaction while performing experiments.
“For children to be able to understand science, it needs to be concrete and there has to be material that they can manipulate, use, test, explore and discover with,” Gilligan said. “It is not enough to just read about science, they have to do science. These carts are perfect.”
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