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Teacher develops Preschool Scientist of the Week

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By Kelly Cantrall

Preschool students at Heartland Elementary School and their families are learning science lessons at home.

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Monica Bybee, a preschool teacher at Heartland, started an initiative called Preschool Scientist of the Week, in which students and their families perform an experiment at home and report the results during class.

Bybee wanted to give students more opportunities to perform science experiments, especially because these are their earliest experiences in education.

“This is really their introduction to science,” Bybee said.

She also liked the idea of involving students’ parents and families, so she sent a request for volunteers to take home a science kit, complete with lab coat and goggles for the student. She was surprised by the number of parents who immediately wanted to participate.

Once the experiment is done, the student presents photos of and details about the project.

“They just love it,” she said. “You can tell they’re so proud. They’re just beaming.”

Bybee provides families with suggestions of experiments that can be done with items generally found at home and that are appropriate for the student’s age, such as testing whether items hold water.

“I wanted it to be fun for the kids and the families,” she said.

Families are welcome to try their own experiments. Ivy Jones and her son, Archer, 4, tried several, including constructing a volcano and making an egg float in water by adding salt. Jones said Archer wanted to try interactive experiments and also was excited to show them to his younger brother.

The goggles and lab coat, donated by Dow Corning, added to the experience for Archer, she said.

“He was really excited about the dress-up part, actually,” she said, laughing.

Jones said she likes being able to take part in what her son is learning because some of it happens at school while she’s not there.

“It just helps me feel more involved,” she said.

Family involvement is a large part of the preschool program, which also includes home visits and monthly parent meetings.

Parents often ask what they can do at home for their child’s education, Bybee said. She hopes this project makes science more accessible.

“The word ‘science’ itself can be intimidating,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.