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Making waves in the new school

Kelloggsville—At five stations in the new science room at Kelloggsville’s Central Elementary, 24 fifth-grade students were busy getting their hands dirty and making observations as part of a lesson on how the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere interact with one another, causing changes to the Earth.

As they made waves, poured water into rivers, created wind storms with a hair dryer and more, science teacher Lynnea Roon kept an eye on things, lending a hand here and there, prompting students to verbalize what they were seeing and running a timer on her smart board to move each group to the next station after five minutes.

Later, she talked about the benefits of the new space at Central Elementary and the ways in which it already is contributing to student learning, just a month after its grand opening.

“I have always learned best and made connections when I get to try something myself,” she said. “I try to get students to interact with materials or create models of how things work. I like to see them doing the experiments.”

Before her move to Central Elementary, Roon taught from a cart, traveling to a trio of elementary schools in the district to bring science lessons to the students.

“Now, my new room is absolutely amazing,” she said. “Compared to having things on a cart, my set-ups are now more prepared and more elaborate. I have access to sinks, a fridge for ice, a stove for heat. I can set up stations and have materials out and ready to go on tables so that our time is used effectively. We have amazing technology and plenty of storage. I am blessed.”

Building Connections By Figuring Things Out

Her young charges agree.

Eliana Flores was smiling behind her mask as she moved water to make waves and observed the impact on the shoreline. And her eyes sparkled as she made a river in a long pan and made predictions about what the water would do to a series of rocks in the way.

“I liked the first one where we made the waves,” she said. “And I learned that when the river was more slanted, more rocks would go downhill.”

Another member of her four-person team, Rian Hughes, was a fan of using the hair dryer to move the sand and observe its impact on a rock in the center of the container. 

As he did so, Joseph Dominguez got excited.

“Oh! oh!” he exclaimed. “So, the sand is bumping up against the rock. It’s chipping against it and in, like, 100 years the rock will be smaller.”

Such observations were exactly why Roon created the exercise.

“I hoped that students would see how water, in rivers or in waves, hitting a shore can move sand, how sand can be moved by wind and how glaciers change the land,” she said. “I love to give them things to figure out rather than just give the answers. It builds more connections when they figure things out.”  

‘Science Is Everything’

That’s why, Roon added, that each station – Wind, Waves, Rivers, Slope of the Land and Sand Types and Groundwater – included students recording their observations in response to a series of guiding questions. In future classes, the students will do more reflection on what they saw and felt, including video clips of examples of erosion.

‘I have always learned best and made connections when I get to try something myself. I try to get students to interact with materials or create models of how things work. I like to see them doing the experiments.’

– elementary science teacher Lynnea Roon

Roon, who has a Bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Western Michigan University and a Master of science education degree from Aquinas College, said that after almost two decades in Kelloggsville classrooms, her passion for science and for teaching is unabated. 

“Science is everything,” she said with a broad smile. “I love sharing how amazing our Earth is, and, of course, I love the ‘aha’ moments when students make connections and the excitement when they get to do experiments.”

From left, Eliana Flores, Rian Hughes, Joseph Dominguez and Ashlee Duran get ready to test the impact of wind on sand and rock, using a hair dryer to simulate wind
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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers East Grand Rapids, Kelloggsville, is lead reporter for Grand Rapids and also is the point person for the SNN Facebook and Twitter feeds. He hails from Exeter, Ontario, but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985. He is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop! Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both freelance writing and public relations work, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level. In the summer of 2019, he began his own freelance writing and communications business. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children.  Read Phil's full bio

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