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California districts use after-school programs to make science fun

The 4th and 5th graders shook their bodies and moved around the classroom because that’s what free molecules do. They then linked arms with their teacher to form a human polymer.

After understanding what a polymer is – a long string of similar groups of molecules linked together – the students had a chance to manipulate a liquid polymer to make a solid bouncing ball. The students in the after-school program at Garfield Elementary School in Oakland tried different combinations of Elmer’s white glue (the polymer), Borax, corn starch and warm water.

“I always watch experimenting stuff on YouTube, but I never tried it myself,” said Nang Moon, 10, dressed in a bright pink jacket.

In his after-school class on a Wednesday in mid-November, teacher Jeremy Lee was using this interactive approach to help students grasp the Next Generation Science Standards, which are starting to be implemented statewide. The standards include integrating engineering design into science education.

Some districts, including Oakland and San Francisco Unified, are looking to after-school and summer programs as one way to introduce students to scientific and engineering concepts in a more relaxed and fun atmosphere that encourages experimentation.

Read the complete story on EdSource Today.