My Big Girl was lucky enough to be part of really awesome program recently. She spent a week in a Starbase classroom at a local college.
The Starbase program is a S.T.E.M. program -- science, technology, engineering and math -- that is run by the Department of Defense. She spent four full days learning in the most creative of ways and doing hands-on experiments under the guise of great, enthusiastic teachers who each had a sense of humor and kept the class engaged. I spent one day at Starbase and came away with such respect for this program.
It is how kids should be learning all the time! They kids designed crafts to carry hard boiled eggs as they traveled down a zip line and smashed into a bowling ball. They made "rockets" in an Alka Seltzer experiment. They designed space shuttles. They learned about atoms and molecules; liquids, solids and gas; what the periodic table is; and numerous other science concepts and theories. They received call names -- Big Girl was Harbor Seal, after a favorite animal -- and they wore their uniform (T-shirt) every day. They designed a necklace that looks like a piece of space craft and it was created out of plastic on a 3D printer. They worked in groups every day and didn't have daily recess beyond their lunch break, but it did not matter to these kids. It was fascinating and fun. At the end of the program, the kids received a certificate as well as took a test to see what they learned. They also took a test to see what career choices might suit their talents and interests.
These kids enjoyed the program so much that when they returned to "regular" school on Monday, it was a bit of a letdown! I know that as a mom, I would love to see more opportunities like this for our children.
If you have a fifth grader, please be sure to investigate this program and see if it is in your area. You will not be disappointed!