2017 May 17 - June 29
2017 October 11 - December 21
2017 Proposal deadline: 08/01/17
2017 BTR deadline: 09/10/17
The second week in August was a busy and productive week at Cornell University. Students from throughout the region traveled to campus to spend two days creating, building, teaming, designing, reflecting, learning, touring, asking questions and being junior engineers as part of the Cornell Summer Science Snapshot program. Nine educators and 85 students grades 3-8th from Syracuse, Tully, South Seneca, Interlaken and Ithaca were engaged in science learning through experience and exploration. Awesome!!!
Day one and two were hectic, open-ended and messy. The children explored materials and learned how to manipulate them to meet the design goals of building a device that mechanically spins a generator long enough to light an LED for three seconds. Keeping in mind that this experience, for many of them, was first time they have been encouraged to learn in this unrestricted manner. This method of inquiry is messy, frustrating, but ultimately rewarding. Students learned how to manipulate materials, share ideas, plan, design, build, test, reflect, redesign, and rebuild. Some designs were successful and some not — but all walked away with valuable learning experiences and new understanding of problem solving and the engineering design/scientific process. Super!
Third and fourth graders reflected upon each other’s success and failures and listened intently as their peers shared their ideas and designs and how they came to their conclusions. Having students think about their own thinking, meta-cognition, and explain it to others is a transformative outcome.
Day three and four demonstrated what a difference there is developmentally between our young elementary learners and middle school aged learners. Wow! It was wonderful for the facilitators to step back and experience a group of self-motivated, independent learners. Middle-schoolers have a bad reputation in the world of education, but it was delightful to watch these students shine.
The folks from Weaver Wind Energy and staff from the Cornell Hydroelectric Facility were fantastic. The scope of the science is impressive and it is always heartwarming to witness how willing scientists and engineers are to share their work with children — we just need to ask them! The Summer Snapshot was the first time Weaver Wind had presented to/worked with youth, and they were so gracious and thrilled to participate. Remarkable!
A huge “thank you!” goes out to the educators who facilitated the Summer Snapshot program. Without their talents, dedication, and teaching experience this program would not have happened. There are many entertainment and recreation programs available for children in the summer months — but Snapshot is a learning program designed to provide children with opportunities to explore and envision their future in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
The ability of adults to embrace the chaos and allow students the space to explore and learn is truly exceptional. With such a diverse group of students, flexibility was essential to creating an experience that was accommodating to all. There was so much learning going on! Socially, emotionally, cognitively, oh my! Sometime kids just need the space and opportunity to work it out as witnessed in so many of our "cooperative" groups. Teachers supported, facilitated, cheered, reassured, prodded, encouraged, questioned, and consoled the children through the engineering design process — and look what happened — students laughed, smiled, fretted, concentrated, explored, took risks, failed, restarted, reflected, restarted, reflected, restarted and accepted success and failure as success ... and many went home and continued to work on the problem. Amazing work!!
Mary Podsiedlik, Guest contributor, Xraise collaborator, and Director of Tully Regional Enrichment Program