Skype a Scientist
Upper Elementary students participated in a “Skype a Scientist” session with Dr. Kate O’Neill, a high school classmate of Mrs Skeuse, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland. Dr. O’Neill is a biomedical engineer who focuses on research involving the brain. She is also a graduate of Princeton University and was thrilled to speak to the students at Princeton Montessori School. Students had the opportunity to talk to her about what it means to be on the research side of the medical field, and what passions and skills guided her to this type of work. They also had an opportunity to look at videos and pictures of the brain in action, and ask questions that they had prepared. The students had a lot of fun – our hope is that we can continue to bring scientists, speakers, and even favorite authors into the classroom using technology like Skype.
The students have been heavily immersed in their research project cycle, so it was good to hear from Dr. O’Neal how research is a process that research requires a lot of patience – a lot of work goes into even the smallest bit of progress. They prepped for the session by drafting questions to ask her and also did a “test call” the week before. One student asked about the coronavirus, and Dr. O’Neill was able to tell her that medical researchers are working hard everyday on this to keep people safe and mitigate risks to individual and public health.
Lower Elementary Science
As an extension of their science lesson on acids and bases, the students of Lower Elementary made pH indicator solution using purple cabbage water to test the level of acidity and alkalinity. The students tested water, baking soda solution, pickle juice, fruit juice, vinegar and dish soap. The vivid transformation of colors – in hues of red (acids), green (neutral) and blue (base) – sparked discussions about the importance of finding the pH of a liquid and how certain foods could alter the pH in our bodies. One of the questions – what did they learn from this experiment – on their reflection sheet earned wide-ranging answers – from “vinegar is more acidic than pickle juice” to “not to drink water out of test tubes!”
During another Science class the Lower Elementary students had a surprise visitor – a volunteer from the Center of Aquatic Sciences brought in marine animals for a presentation. The students learned about the unusual lateral eyes of horseshoe crabs, life cycle of alligators, egg-laying strategies of American tortoises and food habits of the pine snake. Following the presentation, the children took turns petting a horseshoe crab whose 5 pairs of legs, they said, felt like “toothbrush bristles.”