By Belinda Raines
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them,
we learn by doing them.” –Aristotle
Teacher Kristina Ringo is a firm believer in the “learn by doing” philosophy, which serves as the basis for her certainty that the CGIF’s Materials Science Classroom Kit is one of the best tools available to enable students to study materials science and learn by doing.
Kristina was introduced to the CGIF’s Materials Science Classroom Kit at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference and Exhibition in Los Angeles, California in March 2017. The CGIF’s exhibit featured the kit and provided hands-on demonstrations of some ceramics and glass lessons from the kit.
Kristina attended the conference with her 11-year-old son, Isaac, who visited the exhibits while his mom attended educational seminars in an adjoining room. It was during that time that Isaac visited the CGIF booth and spent a good deal of time doing the Candy Fiber Pull, one of the lessons from the Materials Science Classroom Kit that was demonstrated.
“When Isaac and I met up after the seminar had finished, he insisted that we go to this booth as soon as possible so that he could show me the coolest thing with Jolly Ranchers!”, according to Kristina. She went on to explain that her son’s excitement about the demonstration was reason enough to investigate the kit further. “Obviously, I was first attracted to the kit because it is engaging and accessible.”
Kristina teaches biology, earth and space science, and physical science for the 9th and 10th grades at Bravo Lake High School in Woodlake, California. The majority of students in the district are underserved and do not have the advantages or opportunities that other school districts have. “That’s the reason that sponsors are so desperately needed to donate kits to classrooms. The kit presents concepts and hands-on opportunities that the students might not have otherwise.”
Another appealing factor of the kit, explained Kristina, is that “all of the work is done—everything is in the kit so that a teacher can jump in and start using it. The lessons are written, the learning outcomes are provided, key words and student handouts are included, and real-world applications are explained.”
She also made the point that most teachers have neither the time nor the resources to teach such lessons without the kit. “It takes so much expertise to develop lessons like these; putting something together like this would take years. And purchasing the materials individually would be too expensive.”
Kristina noted that she is currently reading a biography of Albert Einstein and that a little-known fact is that a young Einstein was educated following the teaching methods of what was known as the Pestalozzi Method, which stressed “visualization”. Under the Method, it was believed that instead of dealing with words, children should learn through activity and objects. The visual understanding of concepts became a significant aspect of Einstein’s genius. “The objects and activities of the Materials Science Classroom Kit are the essence of what educational moments are supposed to be. The kit provides the value of visualization with hands-on access to what motivates. The students are able to see, touch, feel, understand—things that lead to what I call the ‘moment of discovery’. Such moments provide life-long impressions because the hands-on aspects make the lessons come alive. Every student should have those opportunities.”
Such opportunities are particularly critical in Kristina’s school district. “There has been a decrease in vocational educational, which makes the kit even more valuable as a tool to introduce students to careers in the trades. They learn how things work, and the exposure they can have to jobs in industry is priceless,” Kristina affirmed.
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For information on how you can sponsor a Materials Science Classroom Kit for a deserving teacher, click here.