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Xraise has been playing an active role in coordinating learning activities addressing the engineering design standards featured in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Working with pK-12 educators in the local Ithaca City School District and beyond, Xraise is serves as a resource for classroom teachers. Teachers interested in building upon existing learning materials have teamed up with Xraise staff and volunteers to enhance students’ conceptual understanding of science while exploring engineering design practices. Design-based learning opportunities build on students’ existing science knowledge; giving them opportunities for hands-on learning, and the development of higher-order thinking and skills.

First graders

Local elementary students learning about phase change visit the eXploration station and observe a solid turning into a liquid within seconds.

Our reach to elementary audiences has extended to Chicago Public Schools, where preschool students worked alongside CHESS graduate student Howie Joress to build simple electrical circuits. Cornell faculty member Julia Thom built devices to explore energy transformation with kindergarten classes at Caroline Elementary School. First graders from Fall Creek traveled to the eXploration station to discover how materials expand when heated and contract when cooled. Second grade students at Belle Sherman Elementary concluded their unit on states of matter with a visit from Xraise staff, designing their own device to keep homemade ice-cream cold. Third grade students at Trumansburg Elementary watched demonstrations illustrating phase change and conducted hands on activities, documenting their observations and scientific claims in notebooks. Fourth graders at Caroline Elementary built their own stringed instrument to explore waves and sound. Fifth graders at Beverly J. Elementary engineered tools for cleaning up a simulated oil spill after listening to a presentation by Cornell Engineering graduate and Xrasie staff member Eva Luna.

Xraise has engaged secondary school audiences as well, recently working with the sixth grade science teachers at DeWitt and Boynton Middle Schools during their Professional Learning Communities (PLC) time. We have provided over 10 hours of investigations and discussion about electricity and magnetism (E&M), including the piloting of our new simplified generator design. The team of educators received a grant from the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) specifically to help purchase these generator kits for use in conjunction with a student-centered turbine design challenge at the end of their E&M unit.

Outside of its connection with schools and teachers, Xraise continues to cultivate relationships with community organizations. We’ve been mentoring an entrepreneurial team of Ithaca High students in prototyping a bicycle powered cell phone charger for their budding business venture, “Full Cycle Bikes”. And between sold-out weekend performances of “Physics Fair” with the Kitchen Theatre and Running to Places, we’ve teamed up with Ithaca Generator, the Physics Factory, and Fingerlakes ReUse to offer after-school exhibit design and construction for middle and high school students.

 

 

Submitted by: Lora Hine and Erik Herman
CHESS, Cornell University
02/02/2015