Syracuse University Enrichment Combines Art, Science to Make Learning Fun at Dr. Weeks
Published on 1/19/17
Dr Weeks Elementary School
Thanks to daily enrichment arranged by Syracuse University, Dr. Weeks students experience fun and unique ways to learn about art and science—for an hour each day.
Eleven SCSD schools – including Dr. Weeks—currently take part in Extended Learning Time (ELT) enrichment. Through ELT, students take part in enrichment activities led by community partners like Catholic Charities, Peaceful Schools, Redhouse and Syracuse University. Their enrichment activities range from 30 minutes daily at Dr. King to 55 minutes a day at other schools – giving teachers valuable time to collaborate and plan.
“Our enrichment program is distinctive because of the quality of skills it brings in,” Dr. Weeks Lead Teacher Sergio Ibarra said. “Teaching kids is not just making them do stuff, but allowing them to experiment and analyze—to learn from things. After all, we want to help develop scientists, inventors and leaders!”
Sergio himself has a degree in architecture and tries to incorporate his learned knowledge – like techniques in designing or prototyping – with students’ projects. In fact, most of the Dr. Weeks enrichment program staff have a strong art background and bring professional skills and different mentalities to their lessons.
Throughout the year, students focus on four areas of focus: physical science, environmental science, earth science and engineering. As part of the physical science unit, first graders learned about how sound is generated, second graders learned about matter, and third grade students studied electricity and magnetism. Fourth graders learned about force and motion, while fifth graders experimented with weight and mass.
But rather than learn from a book or video, students learn in a hands-on way. To learn about sound, for example, first grade students created their own wind chimes.
“We used silverware, bells, washers, and paper to make sharp and smooth sounds,” first grader Leyla Lashome said. “We learned about the different types of sounds and how the sound waves travel by bouncing off of things. I like arts and crafts, and this was science, too!”
Fourth grade students studied how energy moves by creating a Kinetic Art project to teach them about the relationship between energy and forces when objects collide. Inspired by artist Reuben Margolin and the qualities and movements of a caterpillar, students designed their own art piece.
“We made something that could move by itself to show energy and how it works,” Hager Alamari said. “I learned that energy can be anything! We even made a fan move by pointing a hair dryer at it! This is a fun way to learn.”
In fifth grade, students created their own clouds to demonstrate their knowledge of solids, liquids and gases. They also learned how each form of matter possesses density differently in relationship to its atomic composition.
“Our project is about matter: solids, liquids and gases,” Jamey Huynh explained. “A cloud holds all three! I never knew that a cloud could be in three different forms. This was fun because we got to actually work on the project, not just watch the teacher demonstrate… it’s our own creation!”
“We’ve also made cubes covered with marshmallows, to represent the molecules in water and how they form together,” classmate Alexandra Summers-Johnson said. “It’s fun because we get to show our creativity and what we can do as kids. It makes us proud to do things that we’re good at!”
Thank you to the Syracuse University teachers who are bringing science and art to life for our Dr. Weeks students—and to all of our ELT partner organizations for their ongoing support!