October 25, 2022 at 4:16 p.m.
Sacred Heart School students increasing science, social skills
Sacred Heart School second graders drank Fuzzy Pink Cows Sept. 20 in the STEM lab in Freeport. It was a way for students to learn the three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas.
Before they indulged in this hands-on activity, STEM teacher Angela Scherping engaged their young minds in determining the difference between solid, liquid and gas.
SHS tried out a six-week STEM pilot program last year, and this year the program is possible through funding from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation that offered Catholic schools in the St. Cloud Diocese a challenge grant in 2022, with matching funds raised from the community.
“It is because of this foundation that we are able to offer our students this amazing opportunity,” said Kristie Harren, principal.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the four areas students learn about.
Harren said it is sometimes challenging to teach all the school standards during a typical day and also include religious standards. Standards are statewide expectations for student learning.
“When considering a teacher’s classroom time, we know science and social skills are the areas that usually get skipped or dropped when time is limited,” Harren said. “Our students have always performed extremely well in both math and reading, and we want to see their science scores soars as well.”
Students receive 45 minutes of STEM instruction from Scherping throughout the week. She has a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry and a “great understanding and love for science that we hope will ignite our students,” Harren said.
For this school year, Scherping and Harren chose four different areas – scientific theory/matter, the human body, solar system/electricity and earth/erosion/rock minerals that will be focused on in the STEM lab.
The STEM program is offered for six weeks every quarter, which allows Scherping time to plan and prepare for the different areas taught at each grade level.
“While kindergarteners are learning that the earth goes around the sun, sixth graders are learning about the other planets, the phases of the moon and figuring out their weight or age on different planets,” Harren said.
On Sept. 20 Scherping shared her knowledge with students, keeping them engaged in what she was saying through words, song and hands-on activities. They eagerly answered her questions related to matter, when it came to their Fuzzy Purple Cow treats.
She encouraged them to observe the foam forming on the top of their Purple Cow drink in a paper cup.
“The gas we released is carbon dioxide. That is what the bubbles are in your pop. When you open the bottle up it (the carbon dioxide) hits the air and unpressurized it and that makes the bubbles and then it fizzes,” Scherping explained.
Does your Purple Cow contain all three states of matter, Scherping asked and a few students quickly said yes.
During this one-hour session students increased their science knowledge, while working together.
It was a sensational STEM lab.