Ramirez Thomas Elementary School teacher Rita Rios-Baca’s first-graders let her know in one collective shout what they thought of her plan to use bubbles to study wind patterns as part of a Los Alamos National Foundation project that brings science into public school classrooms.

“Hooray!” they screamed in unison as they readied their science kits and notebooks under the watchful eye of Rios-Baca and school Principal Loretta Booker.

Within minutes, they were outside the south-side school, blowing bubbles and observing the way they moved with the wind — sometimes north, sometimes south and sometimes right into their own faces.

 They were playing science detectives, in a sense: talking in groups about what they had witnessed and making notes plotting out the trajectory of the bubbles and how that correlated to the way the grass, bushes and tree limbs moved in response to the wind.

It was part of an effort to provide a hands-on approach to learning that makes them excited about a topic that a lot of students may see as boring or too technical or challenging.

“For me it brings science to life,” said Booker, who used the foundation science kits as a kindergarten teacher at Salazar Elementary School a few years ago.

The foundation is celebrating its 20th year supporting public schools with science curriculum and kits at the K-6 level through an $80 million endowment. Each grade level at each school gets two kits — one revolving around physical science and one involving earth science. The foundation gives teachers four days of professional development every summer on the program, paying the teachers for their time. It also offers ongoing classes during the school year on Friday afternoons.

Click here to read the full story in the Santa Fe New Mexican (November 26, 2017)

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