Florida Keys News
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Life lessons in a classroom laboratory
New science program sparks students with fun

Who wants to swim in a yucky, polluted lake? Not the kindergarten pupils in Lauren Brochu's science lab.

This week at Gerald Adams Elementary School, Brochu's students have been learning about how to create pollution -- and most importantly, how to clean it up through the use of a filter.

It's part of a new program at Gerald Adams that has gone forward with the blessing of the school's principal, Fran Herrin.

"I came to her with the idea of doing a science lab with a focus on inquiry-based lessons," Brochu said. "We're trying to get them to think for themselves."

During Wednesday's lesson, Brochu used the analogy of a pristine lake that becomes overrun with residents, and the accompanying soil erosion, pollution and agricultural runoff.

First, the students "polluted" the water with dirt, food coloring and sparkles to study the effect it would have on the creatures living in the lake, represented by a cotton ball. An instructional video was watched, and the students were constantly quizzed on the big picture issues raised, on vocabulary and creative thinking.

"I really love the way it's working out," Brochu said. "All too often science gets pushed to the side, but I really love science, and I want my students to love it as much as I do. And it's working. I'm always hearing from parents who say their kids' favorite classes are phys ed and my science lab. I'm always bragging that I get to do fun science experiments."

Brochu's students bear this out.

"I really like doing the projects," said kindergarten student Olive Welch. "And I like winning Dolphin Dollars (a motivational schoolwide "currency"). I get them almost every day, and I got one today, too."

Doing the lab costs more than is currently budgeted for the class, so Brochu has become a fundraising dynamo, bringing in about $1,500 for needed supplies.

"We're always looking for new sponsors," Brochu said. "We can really put their money to good use."

For information, call 305-293-1609, ext. 51360.

tschmida@keysnews.com

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