October 28, 2009

Students learn about animal adaptations.
Students learn about animal adaptations.
Caldwell County fourth-graders were immersed in science as they studied trees, arrowheads, soils and creatures both cuddly and not so cuddly during a recent science day.

The day was made possible through collaboration between the county office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Caldwell County Elementary School. It was designed to get students excited about science, reinforce classroom learning and introduce future classroom topics and possible science-related careers.

"It's an opportunity for the students to learn in a different way," said Tammie Sanders, the school's librarian who helped coordinate the day. "It's more hands-on and more exciting for them to see someone new, who is a specialist, talk about their field of study."

The event was originally funded by a grant from the Kentucky 4-H Foundation. This year, it was funded by the Caldwell County 4-H Council.

Since its inception four years ago, Caldwell County 4H Youth Development Agent Rhonda Jewell has helped coordinate one science day per school semester. In the fall, the topics are geared more toward life sciences and in the spring, they focus on the physical sciences. Many of the topics include hands-on projects that allow the young people to see, hear, touch and smell science.

"If you make science fun, you can turn youth onto it a whole lot easier," she said. "We try to give them many hands-on, minds-on activities."

Fourth-graders learn about erosion.The students rotated through nine different stations and covered topics ranging from animal adaptations to archeology and physics. Presenters were industry specialists, local enthusiasts and students from Murray State University and Caldwell County High School.

"It hits the main areas of our science core content and shows the students how science applies to them. Plus, it helps them do better on tests at the end of the year," said Stacy Travis, a fourth-grade teacher at the school.

Science is fourth-grader Sarah Keefer's favorite subject. She said she enjoyed learning new things while going through the stations.

"I liked learning about the different types of animals and how things we do can help and hurt our water supply," she said.

Many of the teachers use the day as an introduction to new subjects, which is what Travis plans to do. Jewell said that she plans to reinforce the topics through follow-up activities in 4-H.

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