5th Grade Students Make Real Life Connections with 2004 LHS Graduate
Posted On:
Sunday, January 14, 2018
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Teachers are constantly working to engage their students  in the learning process.  To optimize student learning, teachers are moving away from the lecture-based lessons and towards lessons that are interactive, interesting, and meaningful. This includes developing strategies that make real-life connections with educational standards.  

At the conclusion of their recent science unit on water, 5th grade students at Veterans Park School had the opportunity to experience a real-life connection first hand when they participated in a video chat with Marc Santos,a 2004 Ludlow High School graduate and former Veterans Park students who is a licensed Professional Engineer in Civil Engineering in California and Texas.

“Marc talked to students for approximately 45 minutes, discussing where water comes from, how water can be reused, and how water gets to our houses,” said Caitlin Clemons, 5th grade Inclusion Teacher, who arranged the video chat with her LHS classmate. “One aspect of the water cycle unit considered how humans interact with earth systems. Marc was able to shed light on this. His experiences and real-life examples helped our students think deeply about what they learned in the classroom, and their impact in the community.”

Santos enjoyed sharing his professional experiences with students, stating, “I think the importance is twofold, first, as cliche as it sounds, I do believe students are the future for our societal and technological development; therefore, I feel strongly in investing time into Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.  Secondly, I always find inspiration in the creativity and cleverness of students, and it serves as a reminder to approach challenges with an open mind and think outside the box.”

“I really liked the video chat,” shared 5th Brady Procon. “I learned that water can be stored in an aquifer for more than 100 years.”  When asked what an aquifer is Procon explained, “It basically is an underground place that stores water.  It can be natural, made from rocks or man made. We can’t see it, but we need them so we don’t run out of water.”

When asked what she had learned, Ava Gabriello said she was surprised with the amount of water people use daily. “There are seven billion people in the world and each person needs water to live.  People in the United States use the most water- about  100 gallons of water each day; with people in California and New York using the most water.”

“We take for granted that clean water will come out of the faucet when we turn it on,” added Chloe Andle.  “There are some places in the world that people have to walk miles to get just a little water to drink.  We all should be more aware of how complicated it is to treat water for us to use and drink, and be more aware of how much water we waste.”

Santos himself, has a vivid memory of his 5th grade science class at Veterans Park School, with his teacher, Lenore Paul;  a memory that he  now is able to connect to his current profession. “I remember building a compost bin outside of our classroom and when the weather warmed up in the spring we mixed up the newly produced compost.  Understanding the science behind a somewhat everyday activity was very interesting to me.  As it turns out, the biological process of composting really isn't all that different from wastewater treatment, which is one of the systems that I design as an engineer.”

“Being able to interact with the students and answer their questions was really rewarding,” shared Santos.  “I thought the questions were very well thought through, I was impressed.  My only regret is that I couldn't be there in-person, maybe next year!”  

“We see that students are  more engaged and self directed when we are able to show them why learning a specific topic, such as access to water, is important to them,” shared Allison Breen, 5th grade science teacher, when summarizing the impact of the video chat.  “Making learning relevant beyond the classroom by using concrete examples is key to maintaining their interest, and this video chat did just that.”

“As I walked around the classrooms during Marc’s chat I saw 200 engaged, attentive 5th graders, eager to learn,” said Clemons, echoing the thoughts of her 5th grade colleagues.  “Incorporating the video chat to wrap up our science unit, added depth to our students understanding of the water cycle, how humans interact with their environment, and college/career possibilities.”

 Photo Credits- Allison Breen & Caitlin Clemons


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