GVSU Partners With Bursley Elementary For Family Science Night

How long would it take you to make a bridge out of straws? And, upon finishing, could your product sustain the weight of a blackboard eraser? Or two?

Those were the questions filling the hallways of Bursley Elementary during their pre-Spring Break Family Science Night. Planned by Grand Valley State University students training to become teachers, each activity found its roots in or was adapted from Science Olympiad events.

Jenison Public Schools, Bursley Elementary, GVSU, teacher education, Science Night

Eliana Nichols, mom to 2nd grader Mackenzie (pictured above), enjoyed the evening and appreciated the learning that her daughter was able to do after school.

My daughter has been talking about this for two weeks! She loves experiments and watching Myth Busters on TV — she’s a science nut!”

Jenison Public Schools, Bursley Elementary, GVSU, Science Night,

The Sanchez family stayed busy at the Cat-a-Pult station.

Activities included a sink or float experiment, reflection relay, barge building, working with magnets, creating paper rockets, and firing “Cat-a-Pults” as pictured above. The Sanchez family enjoyed launching plastic cats at the Cat-a-Pult firing range. Mother Heather was thrilled to have a night out that incorporated learning.

“It’s great to have something interesting and educational to do. We don’t have a lot of science stuff at home, per se, so nights like this are fantastic.”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Nights “like this” began in the mind of GVSU Associate Professor of Physics, Keith Oliver, in an effort to get his education students into real-world teaching situations sooner than they typically would in their program.

“Three years ago we were looking for an opportunity for our students to interact with elementary children before getting to the end of their program. Typically field placements come later on, but this gives our prospective teachers an opportunity early on. So now we plan roughly two Family Science Nights per semester!”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Principal Rané Garcia couldn’t have been more pleased with the effort put forth by Grand Valley’s team of students or the turnout of Bursley families who came to participate in the fun.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with future teachers — its a win for the GVSU students, a win for the community, and a win for our students!”

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

How many pennies does it take to sink a tin foil boat?

Jenison Public Schools, GVSU, Science Night, Bursley Elementary

Rachel Eriks and daughter Erin see how far they can blow a paper airplane from a straw launcher.

GVSU Collaborates on Rosewood’s Family Math Night

How many spiders and insects could you make if you were given five play dough “bodies” and forty pipe cleaner “legs”?

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

This was just one of the many questions posed by the GVSU Mathematics Department students who helped to facilitate Rosewood’s “Family Math Fun Night” this past Tuesday. Grand Valley students currently enrolled in Math for Elementary Teachers, along with Professor Pam Wells, organized the night to offer opportunities for practical application of the concepts they’ve been polishing in class.

Peter Rau and Chelsea Henrizi were two of Professor Wells’ students assisting at a table with abacuses. Peter summarized the goal of the night was to “set up a math event that would engage children of all ages and include extensions for those farther along with their math skills, all while keeping it fun.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Chelsea, a visually impaired student, shared that using math manipulatives has opened a whole new world for her. She credits Professor Wells with going above and beyond to make accommodations for her and make math come alive.

“As a blind student myself, I’ve always loved doing math with my hands. It’s helped me to understand concepts from basic adding and subracting to data and probability. I’d love to work with blind children because I didn’t get proper adaptations growing up. I’d like to change that for others.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Students of all grade and ability levels swarmed to one of the dozen tables to dive into games involving everything from geoboards to polygons.

Parents like Heather Noah said that her family reads a lot, but they don’t often spend extra time on math. Rosewood’s Family Math Fun Night gave them the opportunity to work together on concepts her daughter is learning in class.  “We’re excited to be here!” she said.

Others like Kristin Graham were excited to see their children engaged and enthusiastic. “I think it’s good for kids to keep learning fun,” she shared.

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

But fun is only part of it. Professor Wells wants to encourage kids to math with their families much like they already read with their families. Furthermore, she hopes her GVSU students make strides as the next generation of elementary teachers.

“I really want my students to go out the door confident in their mathematics capabilities — really understanding the concepts. Most of them think about how they learned math and we want to relearn it and unpack it. We’re training them to think about math from a teacher’s perspective instead of from a learner’s perspective.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Math Nights like the one at Rosewood provide a way for Jenison kids to re-connect with old concepts, learn new strategies, and engage students around academics with their parents outside of the traditional school day.

If you were able to attend this event, what was your favorite part? Please leave a comment below!

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU