Stillwater Elementary PTSA begins second year of popular science docent program Discovering pieces to the puzzles of physics, geology and so much more

  • Written by Leanne Christensen, RSD

Stillwater students/young scientists learning to use a microscope: L to R: Jonah Irwin, Brayden Krawiec, Tucker Crossland, Ronan Seitzinger. Photo by Pamela Parks
The science docent program is celebrating its second inspiring year at Stillwater Elementary.

When planning for the program began back in 2010 with PTSA volunteers Pam Deming, Pamela Parks, Christine Hillestad, Librarian Mrs. Roberts, and teachers Mrs. Santamaria, Mrs. Tobin, parent Carrie Haines and community supporter Sheila Schenke it was not known how extremely successful and popular this program would become, however hopes were high and staff support was remarkable.

As with the popular art docent program, the SWE PTSA has found the same student interest and enthusiasm surrounding their science docent program.  PTSA science docent chairperson Pamela Parks explains, “We spent the summer prior to the first year pounding out lesson plans, gathering supplies and writing grants ... ready to hit the ground running. Remarkably, in September of 2011 we had over 35 parent volunteers step up to become science docents!”

What Pamela loves most about working on the science docent program is the fact that “everyone has a piece of the puzzle,” she shares, “and it is wonderful watching all of the pieces come together.  For instance, Ms. Rosbach helped us work on the vocabulary for all of the lessons, Mrs. Materi created the guidelines for our investigation reports, Mrs. Crouch taught us how to use the ActivBoard effectively, and Mrs. Olson has been invaluable whenever a myriad of questions have come up.”

Pamela continued, “Our volunteer docents are so very hard working, and there is a lot of scrambling around with regard to setting up experiments, cleaning up spills, etc. Our many docents have all helped me to tweak the lessons so that the experiments go smoothly, and they are always ready with needed insight and feedback.”

Pamela expressed her gratitude to all of those who continue to go “above and beyond” the call of duty, such as Scott Britt, who is building a launch pad for a 2nd grade physics experiment involving checkers and rubber bands, and Charles Taylor, their resident geology expert, who has helped to write a 1st grade mineral lesson and a 5th grade fossil lesson... not to mention retired teacher Mrs. Rich who assisted a lot with 3rd grade lesson plans, and parent Lloyd McCracken, the SWE general “go to guy,” for advice and building all things cool!

Also, the science docent program is extremely fortunate to have Mike Nelson and Rick Boulumpas, the SWE custodians, as partners in this process, as their ingenuity and resourcefulness  have saved the program thousands of dollars through the re-purposing of old equipment.

The PTSA is grateful to have received the following grants which have enabled them to further support this inspiring program: an Applegate Grant which helped to purchase kid-friendly microscopes, a grant from America the Beautiful for free seeds for the SWE Gardening Club, and a grant from the Riverview Educational Foundation (REF) which assisted in the purchase of storage units, an erosion tank, a giant flower model, and an inflatable model of the solar system.

In closing Pamela stated, “Our goal, as students progress from kindergarten through 5th grade, is for them to see and experience  a ‘storyline’ building through all of the lessons they have learned from their involvement in the science docent program here at Stillwater.”

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