Rickson Ridge PS students explore science through Scientists in School
April 29, 2021
GUELPH, Ontario – This year, primary students at Rickson Ridge Public School had an “out of this world” opportunity to be part of a creative initiative started by Scientists in School.
This opportunity began with a science inquiry into the latest Mars Rover, Perseverance. This unit was undertaken by three Rickson Ridge PS primary classes during the remote learning period beginning in January. Students explored the rover’s creation, journey, and then odds-defying landing on Mars.
While these primary students were learning about the new and innovative ways that Perseverance will be able to teach humans about Mars, staff at Scientists in School were continuing to find new ways of providing excellent programming for students during the pandemic.
Scientists in School is a STEM-based educational charity that normally provides in-school science workshops to elementary classes. This year they have adapted their workshops to be available to classes virtually. In addition, the organization devised a new program called “Spotlight with Scientists in School,” an original Facebook interview series that shines a spotlight on scientists who are making a difference. The goal of this program is to inspire young children and instill in them a love of science. The interviews are fun and informal, but most importantly, they are a chance to have a conversation about issues that are relevant to today’s youth.
Rickson Ridge PS teacher-librarian and primary science teacher Jessica Patrick and Scientists in School’s Outreach and Development Specialist Betty Bakopoulos spoke about the challenges of teaching hands-on, inquiry-based science during a pandemic, which led to further sharing of activities.
When Patrick told Bakopoulos about the Mars unit she was doing with her students, Bakopoulos shared that she happened to be researching Dr. Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist involved with the landing of the Perseverance Rover. She explained that she was hoping to have Dr. Harrison as her guest on “Spotlight with Scientists in School” and then an exciting collaboration was born, which ended up with some of the Rickson Ridge PS students submitting their questions about Mars to Bakopoulos to ask her guest during the “Spotlight” interview.
After an early look at the interview, the Chief Executive Director for Scientists in School, Cindy Adams, said, ““EVERY child in Canada should watch this Spotlight. I learned so much and feel very proud that Scientists in School can feature such an esteemed and down-to-earth scientist. What a message to young people (and adults) to follow their dreams and to keep on learning… The Rickson Ridge [Public] School involvement was awesome!”
The students involved at Rickson Ridge PS agree and cannot wait to watch the interview.