Students explore science |

Students explore science

Christina M. Currie

Ten Moffat County students were wowed Thursday by the power of a natural disaster.

Craig Intermediate and Craig Middle School students participated in a daylong Science Explorers workshop hosted by University of Colorado students.

Workshop topics change from year to year. This year, students learned about tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires and avalanches.

“It’s pretty fun,” 12-year-old Mandi Ellgen said. “I like it. It’s more fun than school because you get to move around more.”

Students gathered at the School Administration Building for a day of practical experience. In their evaluation of the workshop, the wildfire portion was marked as a favorite.

“I liked learning about wildfires because we got to burn stuff,” Moffat County student Mike Miller said.

Craig Middle School science teacher Becky Field said students learned about the triangle of fire — the three things necessary for a fire to burn, including fuel, oxygen and heat. They conducted experiments to determine what happened when one of those elements was taken away. They also tested different fuel sources and observed the way they burned.

To learn about avalanches, students used instant potatoes, borax, sugar and salt to simulate a snow slide and learn about how the structure of snow, incline and natural barriers affected the fall.

“You learn about different things you wouldn’t normally learn about,” Ellgen said. “There are more experiments. It’s more hands on.”

Most of the day was spent experimenting.

“We just do labs to understand the science,” Field said. “Studies show with hands-on experience, kids remember what they learned.”

For teachers, the lessons are something they can duplicate in their classrooms. They’re given a packet of materials to help them integrate the information into their lessons.

“We incorporate this into what we’re already doing,” Field said.

Students who attended the Science Explorers workshop will be used as demonstrators or peer tutors in the classroom.

Field said this year’s topics were selected in response to the 2004 tsunami, but that they fit well with the seventh- and eighth-grade science curriculum.

Seventh-graders study wea–th–er, and eighth-graders focus on earth science. Eighth-grade students aren’t typically invited to the Science Explorers workshop, but they were this year because the topics meshed well with their studies

Sixteen teams from Craig, Steamboat Springs, Rangely and Kremmling middle schools participated in Thursday’s workshop.

Each team consisted of five students and a teacher.

CU graduate students facilitate Science Explorers to let teachers experience an activity-based science workshop before teaching it in classrooms.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or

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