Fifth graders at Westridge Elementary gathered around the classroom and watched as Holly Walker, an Outreach Science Educator from Discovery Gateway surprised them with a number of cool scientific experiments.

To help the students better understand what they’ve been learning in their individual classes, Walker has come to Westridge to put chemistry in action. Before they began, the classes discussed the steps of the scientific method and how they would help the students make sense of the experiments Walker planned on performing. They also reviewed lab safety guidelines to ensure everyone would use the best practices to keep them from harm. These practices included wearing safety goggles and gloves to keep their eyes and hands protected as well as wafting smells and never putting anything in the mouth.

With everyone on the same page, Walker set out to perform multiples chemistry experiments demonstrating changes that occur in matter. Along the way, Walker helped the students make observations, ask questions and come up with hypotheses. At the end of each experiment, the fifth graders would use their knowledge to decide if there was a physical or chemical change. One experiment challenged the students’ thinking when a Styrofoam cup disintegrated into a pool of acetone. The fifth graders had to dig deep and use critical thinking skills to decide what kind of change this experiment proved.

After meeting collectively as a grade, Walker visited each different class to help them with their own science experiments. Not only was this science activity fun and engaging, it also helped fulfill the Core Standard 1 for the students’ learning requirements.