Posted On: Monday, December 16, 2013


Students learn about gravity and velocity with a Hot Wheels ramp (left) and sound travel with the colorful tubes.

Students from Horace Mann’s CHAMPS program, for students with developmental disabilities, recently received some hands-on lessons in science with a little help from their new 8th grade friends at Harding Middle School. It was a perfect match.

While the CHAMPS students were able to talk about the science standards in their own classroom, they did not have the equipment or capabilities to execute experiments that demonstrate how the scientific principles work. Enter the Harding students. CHAMPS teacher Christina Smith had worked with Harding science teacher Ann Pesta in the past and knew how she incorporated fun into her science lessons and asked if she might be able to help Smith out.

Pesta was right on it. She corralled one of her 8th grade classes to design seven experiment stations that would give the CHAMPS students a visual representation of the concepts they learned in class as well as give them a chance to execute the experiments themselves.

It couldn’t have worked out better, said Smith. She noted how her students were so engaged and excited about working with the older kids and the science materials that usual behavior issues disappeared during their time at Harding and their engagement with the lessons was at another level. While the CHAMPS students moved from station to station, Smith marveled at how the Harding students were able to adapt their experiments on the fly according to each group’s capability levels.

“This is how they learn best – visual hands-on activities,” Smith said.


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