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Winchester/Berlin Students Benefit from Hands-on Learning

January 31, 2014

Whether it’s designing bobsleds, growing gardens or studying the Connecticut River, students in Winchester and Berlin, NH, are setting aside the books to get their hands dirty with real-life science projects with the help of the KSC Education Department.

This inquiry-based learning is part of the Rural School Educator Effectiveness Collaborative (RSEEC), with Plymouth State University and funded by the New Hampshire Department of Education Title II-A State Agency for Higher Education (SAHE) subcontract at KSC.

Among the projects the team is working on is a collaborative project with third graders from Winchester and third graders from Berlin. As part of the project, KSC Education Professor Deborah Black taught the third graders in Winchester how to plant hydroponically. Those students in turn put together a video to show the Berlin students how to plant. The two classes will ultimately share data they collect on their respective hydroponic lettuce patches and compare the two systems.

Another project paired up Winchester sixth graders and Berlin second graders to engineer a bobsled during the Winter Olympics. Using the SLED Engineering Design Model process, students had to design a bobsled using limited materials. The final run was attended by the students’ parents, and all of it was captured on video. The third project between the schools is a Connecticut River study. The Winchester students studied the Connecticut River from Walpole up to the Montshire Museum of Science. The culminating event was a meetup at the Montshire to share their findings. The Winchester end of this partnership was coordinated by a KSC student teacher who has a second major in General Science.

Black also worked on an engineering design project with 6th grade students in Winchester. While reading Flush by Carl Hiaasen, students were “hired” by a client –the EPA – to design a waste containment system that would collect floating waste in an ocean bay. Students had learned about ocean currents, so they were aware of the direction in which the waste was floating in the book. After students designed their containment systems, their second task was to design a way to clean up the waste in the containment system. Methods II students engaged in the same engineering design model process and then looked at differences between their design and the 6th grade students’ designs. The engineering design process was captured on video and was later shown to – and critiqued by – KSC students.