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Sumas students enjoy science thanks to Donors Choose donations

The first-grade students at Sumas Elementary love science. They love it so much, they clamor for as many hands-on opportunities as possible. Now, thanks to a Donors Choose effort led by the Sumas first-grade teachers, the students have that additional science opportunity. launched in 2000 as a way to help teachers, and classrooms, in need and has since attracted millions of supporters who have crowd-funded projects to benefit students. The site provides a crowdfunding forum for educators to alleviate the financial burden. “We have had good luck with using Donors Choose in the past and thought we would give it a try for this big purchase,” says Sumas teacher Jennifer Niemann. “We were shocked that it got funded in under a week.”

The teachers posted the Donors Choose project to fund new hands-on FOSS science kits in November and with the funding in place within a week were able to have the new units in the classroom by January.

“Kids knew when we received word that we had been funded,” Niemann says. “They love the science kits we have done in the past, so they were excited to hear about a new one. The students made thank you cards to send to the people who donated.”

Niemann says it was important to get the latest from FOSS Science with specific connections to the Next Generation Science Standards, easing the workload on teacher modifying the kits to adjust to the current standards.

The Sound and Light Module kits provide students with experience to develop an understanding of how to observe and manipulate sound and light. Students learn that sound comes from vibrating objects and they explore how to change sound volume and pitch while developing simple models for how sound travels from the source to the receiver. With light, students also work with sources and receivers, finding out what happens when materials with different properties are placed in a beam of light. They can also explore how to create and change shadows and reflections.

 “We are having lots of fun exploring sound right now,” Niemann says. “They have been using classroom supplies to make instruments and explore how they change sound. We have added new vocabulary of sound wave, vibration and sound source.”

And, as expected, Niemann says “the kids love it.”