I’ve been asked to teach a voluntary summer enrichment science class for 20 upper elementary students. I can determine the content and structure for the class. I have a modest budget, access to the science resources in the school, and the principal will assist with logistics. I’ve never done this before, so I’m looking for ideas and suggestions. —T., Ohio
Having an uninterrupted block of time to focus on science sounds like a wonderful experience for you and your students.
Many summer programs call themselves a “camp” to differentiate from remedial classes. Rather than a series of unconnected activities, you may want to pick themes that you are interested in, too–for example
- Nature study (plants, insects, stream study, trees, birds),
- Engineering/design (rocketry, wind power, inventions),
- Earth science (rocks, fossils, weather), or
- Community service (gardening, recycling).
The March 2017 issue of Science and Children features ideas for getting students outside. “Our Oasis” describes how high school students can be mentors in an elementary summer camp. The article also has examples of activities and schedules. Look at what science and nature centers offer as summer programs for more ideas. Perhaps you could do relevant activities and investigations that are too time-consuming during the school year.
Provide opportunities for students to be outside and active (with backup plans for rainy days). Include photography and journaling for students to document what they are doing and reflect on their learning.
Work with your principal on the details: safety and first aid, other adults to assist, permission slips, possible fees, transportation, refreshments/lunch, and the possibility of visiting off-campus sites, such as museums or parks.
Ask students and parents for an evaluation of the program to assist with future planning.
Most of all – enjoy!