Lesley STEAM Learning Lab and the Science in Education team welcomed all 6th grade students from the Argenziano and East Somerville Community Schools (Somerville Public Schools) for an interactive field trip in November. The trip was generated out of the collaborative curriculum design as part of Lesley’s Biogen grant supporting both Cambridge and Somerville school districts with STEM integration. Two Somerville science teachers, the STEAM Lab, and Lesley science faculty, Susan Rauchwerk and Nicole Weber, developed an experience that would engage students in expanding their investigation of geologic time and fossil records.
The classes broke into groups, each having a dedicated time in the science labs and the Lesley STEAM makerspace. Groups in the makerspace were tasked with creating their own fossil record based on an era of their choice. Using simple materials such as playdough, plastic animals and reptiles representative of prehistoric times, leaves, and tools, they assembled their layers and either created an imprint or cast fossils. Students then had to validate their design choices by creating a short greenscreen video explaining their fossil record.
While our Learning Lab team was busy in the makerspace, groups in the science labs conducted acid tests on a select group of rocks, determining which rocks had more or less calcium carbonate, and thus were more likely to break down or erode, especially in the presence of acid rain. They also had access to a dazzling collection of rocks and fossils to explore and discuss. We heard there was some exciting rock smashing experimentation as well.
After the hands-on sessions, the groups then had a tour of the Lesley College campus, where one student remarked, “You mean, people choose to come back to school?” The teachers remarked that this was the best field trip their students have ever had – and we look forward to welcoming them back for future visits.