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Photo Credit: Carnegie Science Center

Nothing beats learning through experience, according to Richard Schmidt who teaches 6th grade science at Park Forest. He knows that seeing conceptual ideas come to life is one of the best ways for students to grasp and understand the curriculum.

That’s why Mr. Schmidt is bringing the Carnegie Science Center Road Show to his students!

“The Carnegie Science Center offers a traveling road show, Solar Quest: Living With Our Star. It’s complemented by multiple hands-on, small group adventure stations,” Mr. Schmidt explained. “This show will come directly to our school and students can experiment with concepts that are part of our curriculum.”

To transport students to the Science Center in Pittsburgh would cost around $7,500, $30 per student. Bringing the traveling exhibit to Park Forest costs just $1,140 or $5 per student. The $1,000 Student Opportunity grant will fund nearly all of it.

The demonstrations in the road show reinforce the science concepts that students are working on this year in curriculum units called “What Is Life?” and “Our Place in Space.”

One demonstration uses colorful exploding balloons to introduce the elements inside the sun. Another includes an 8-foot inflatable model of the powerful Atlas V rocket that carried the Solar Dynamics Observatory to space.

“The information and activities are transferable to the work the students will be doing in both 7th and 8th grade science,” said Mr. Schmidt, “and some of the activities even provide students with materials to take home. Students will get to investigate using the phenomenon-based approach, which is advocated by the Next Generation Science Standards, the basis of the new curriculum we are implementing this year.”

The traveling road show is more than just a few hours—it’s an all-day adventure for students that offers unparalleled opportunities for learning, going far beyond the typical scope of the curriculum. For example, students will learn directly from the experts at Carnegie Science Center.

One of the best parts, Mr. Schmidt says, is that the day’s experience won’t end when the road show packs up. “The project will stimulate ongoing innovation by giving the students hands-on and minds-on experiences that they will continue to reflect on and investigate in their future science courses,” he said.