For the past six years, through the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science Coaches program, Dr. Danielle Garrett, associate professor of chemistry education, has partnered with Ellen Deathridge, 4th grade teacher at Donelson Christian Academy (DCA), to engage DCA 4th graders in hands-on science experiences. For the past two years, that has included a field trip in May to the Belmont campus, where 4th grade students participate in a half-day of hands-on chemistry activities, interactive demos and a visit to the chemistry teaching labs. While COVID-19 put a halt to their plans to hold their annual spring field trip, Garrett and Deathridge were not going to let that put a halt to their science partnership.
As the semester came to a close, Garrett developed and filmed a 45-minute science lesson, where students got to see several science demonstrations and develop connections between their science knowledge and new topics. The three main focus points of this lesson were 1.) the states of matter, 2.) the relationship among temperature, pressure and phase changes, and 3.) conductors, insulators and heat transfer. Through the demonstrations Garrett performed, students got to see how applying a vacuum to a closed system could make water boil. They also got to learn about heat capacity and heat transfer, comparing how quickly ice cubes melted on cubes of various materials (copper, polypropylene, oak and steel). Garrett developed a handout for the students, where they could record their observations, make predictions and answer questions about the science lesson.
“Even though I was sad that we could not meet in person this semester, I had so much fun putting this together for Ellen and her 4th grade students,” Garrett said.
Deathridge added how much her students loved being able to see Garrett again through online learning. “’Awesome,’ ‘cool’ and ‘best science teacher ever’ have been some of their comments,” Deathridge said.
“I love this experience so much! Ellen and I have been so blessed to be a part of the ACS Science Coaches program for the past six years. She is an amazing science teacher and an awesome person to work with,” Garrett said. “I’ve already got plans for more science videos, in case we’re still engaged in remote learning next fall. Like I told the 4th graders at the beginning of my video, ‘Just because we can’t be together in the classroom, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with science!’”