News Archive

R-MWC in the News: A Sense for Science

R-MWC hosts science camp for local children, teachers

7/5/2006 9:14:19 AM


By Janet Nguyen
Thursday, June 29, 2006

The five-minute warning had several of the students working frantically to complete their projects.
"We have to work together as a team," said Taylor Fuqua to her partner, Tamara McCray.

"This is hard work."

Taylor, 11, and Tamara, 10, are two of more than 70 students participating in this year’s summer science camp at Jubilee Family Development Center.

This year, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, which has coordinated the annual camp for the past five years, brought in local teachers to help as part of a research grant to improve student interest and learning in the sciences.

"We’re looking for changes in attitude in science," said Peggy Schimmoeller, associate professor of education at R-MWC.

"(The science camp) was something we thought would be nice to include in the grant."

More than 30 teachers participated in the Science Teaching Institute held last week at R-MWC, where they learned more about content and inquiry-based teaching in the sciences.

The $40,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Education covered the costs of the three-day workshop - paying R-MWC faculty, providing stipends for the participating teachers and also covering the costs of camp supplies.

"The goal of the grant is for them to use (the lesson plans) next year," said Schimmoeller.

"We need more ideas," said Kathleen Crawford, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at New Vistas School.

"It gave us so many practical ideas to use in the classroom. It really helps our teaching," said Crawford.

"You can never have enough ideas," said Patricia Haskins, a third-grade teacher at Paul Munro Elementary School.

This week, six teachers were brought in to help teach the lesson plans learned at last week’s workshop.

Throughout the week, students made silly putty, slime and even searched for and identified rocks outside the Jubilee Center.

On Thursday, the sunny weather made it the perfect day to experiment hands-on with the laws of gravity.

Students split into groups of two and spent about 30 minutes constructing a container out of paper, straws and tape that would hold and protect an egg from breaking when dropped.

"I like seeing how the children respond to the problems that are presented to them," said Haskins.

"They problem-solve together as a team and come up with different designs," said Crawford.

"That’s the beauty of it," she added.

Tamara and Taylor’s project withstood the first drop.

"Yes, it made it," said the girls, until the egg broke after the second drop.

After the third drop, the surviving contraptions and their creators gathered together for a group photo.

"We are survivors," said several of the campers.

"I love the science camp because it’s fun and educational," said Taylor. "The teachers are very fun."

R-MWC faculty members will continue the research project by observing and working with the teachers in their classrooms on at least one occasion during the upcoming school year.

Teaching at this week’s science camp at the Jubilee Center "really brings it together for us," said Crawford.

"(The students) remember things better when they experiment hands-on."

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations