MOJAVE — From science experiments to water slides, model rockets to baby goats, Friday’s celebration to mark the close of the Mojave Unified School District’s Summer Science Academy had it all.
The two-week science academy, now in its sixth year, provided an extra dose of hands-on learning for about 120 students from across the district in first through 11th grade, all nominated by their teachers to take part.
On Friday, students had the opportunity to show off all they’ve learned in an open house for family and friends.
Priscilla McCann’s class of fifth- and sixth-graders built a variety of robots and other mechanical and electrical goods and learned computer programming during their two weeks.
“Brush bots” used a scrub brush as a base for motors that helped propel the bots across the table, while others with a soda can body used gear to move their “legs” so they could walk and insect-like bots vibrated to provide propulsion.
Sixth-grader Lay’arie Williams demonstrated her vacuum bot, with a small soda bottle body fitted with a fan and motor. She learned a rubber tube for the nozzle worked better than plastic, which caused the confetti she was attempting to vacuum to stick.
“I like being able to construct it and see if it works right,” she said.
Jeremiah Bavers showed his helicopter bot, which he had hoped to make fly but the motor was too heavy, he said.
Although he will start ninth grade in the fall, Bavers joined the younger students in McCann’s class because he was so interested in the robotics, and found that using the motors was the best part.
He also built an arm that moved using hydraulic power, provided by tubes filled with water and syringes. “It’s not a piston without water,” he said.
The first- and second-graders in David Wilson’s class learned about the scientific method, conducting an experiment to see if water would leak from a plastic bag if pencils were stuck into it. They tested two hypotheses using varying amounts of water in the bag: that the water would leak, or that the bag would seal around the pencil and keep the water in.
Incoming third-grader Victor Juan found his hypothesis to be correct.
“I thought it wouldn’t leak,” he said the experiment he called his favorite part of the class, in which he participated for a second year. “I like science and stuff like that.”
His older sister Irma Juan, who will be a senior in the fall, built and launched model rockets, made a solar cooker and dissected a heart and cow’s eye in her academy class. The dissection was her favorite part.
“I find it interesting what’s really inside,” she said.
The science academy allows teachers to come up with the lessons they want to teach and provide materials to support them, giving them an opportunity to improvise more than during the regular school year, Principal Nauman Zaidi said.
“It’s amazing to see what these teachers have done,” Trustee Richard Walpole said.
The open house also served as a celebration of the students, with a barbecue, bounce house, water slide, volleyball, dancing and even baby goats to pet.
“They need to be celebrated. We need to honor these kids,” Zaidi said.
Friday’s fun also included students and families in the district’s extended year program for special education and those working to make up course credits, in addition to the summer academy students.