- Sponsorship -

Curious? Figure it out, then report back

Friday class period meant to engage

Fridays in Jim Grulke’s seventh grade science classes this fall were a tinkerer’s paradise. That’s because Grulke, who teaches five sections of seventh grade science, dubbed the last day of the week “Figure It Out Fridays.”

Teacher James Grulke got the idea for Figure It Out Fridays from his wife, a former third grade teacher

Like why people cry. Or how to modify a lacrosse stick. Or how to make glitter that won’t harm the environment or humans.

“We just love the look of glitter and how pretty it is,” explained Rylei Weller, who worked with group members Emma Jenks, Grady Proctor and Johnny Pike to come up with a sugar and a salt-based product.

Their second effort, squirting food coloring on sugar and baking it, worked better after “someone thought to boil it, and that obviously didn’t work,” Rylei said. Once they came up with a method that stuck, their next task was to find out why baking seems to work.

The Why and the How

Students spent 12 weeks coming to their own conclusions about a nagging “why” or “how” question.

Halle Goggins wonders why people cry

Similar to what some schools refer to as “genius hour,” Figure It Out Fridays were aimed at sparking curiosity and engagement. Grulke said he wanted to try out the activity ever since his wife, a former third grade teacher, shared with him about her own students’ engagement.

“It’s a way to foster creativity, especially in that time between the beginning of the year and Thanksgiving, which always feels like the longest stretch without a break,” he said.

“This is a way to keep them interested in learning about what they want to learn about.” Projects didn’t have to involve science, he said, because the aim was to grow students’ research and planning skills — definitely required in any science class.

Braelyn Larson figured out what needed to happen to start an after-school art club

Grulke wasn’t sure whether he will continue Figure It Out Fridays the rest of the year, but the pilot provided plenty of items for him to do more figuring, he said. Which, after all, is what research and development is all about.

“Most students really dug in right away but others seemed overwhelmed, so I need to give those students more guidance and support. I also need to know what they thought of it, because my perspective might be different from theirs.”

Braelyn Larson thought big and was pleased she stuck with her plan to start an after-school art club. With guidance from Grulke, she figured out where the club will meet, what supplies are needed, how to attract members and what activities to offer.

An added and possibly unanticipated bonus: connection. “The first week I’ll ask them to make something that tells me about you,” Braelyn said. “There’s some eighth graders who signed up I don’t know.”

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Outdoor lover, zen seeker, middle-schooler hope-giver

Bill Cataldo is the new K-8 principal for Cedar Springs’ new Red Hawks Online virtual school this year. School News Network took some time to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Principal...

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

District conducts contact tracing after high school student tests positive for COVID-19

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Lowell Area Schools received notification from the Kent County Health Department that a student enrolled at Lowell High School had tested positive for COVID-19...

Education ‘a family thing’ for new interim superintendent

Nate Fowler is the new interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year at Lowell Area Schools. School News Network sat down with the lifelong educator to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Administrators...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU