In California’s Central Valley there are few opportunities for students to experience hands-on science. Situated two hours from the nearest science center, transportation is expensive and can take up most of a school day. Ag In Motion began bringing hands-on science to every middle school student (over 15,000 annually) in 2011. Last year we decided to expand our reach into low income neighborhood elementary schools by teaching eighth graders to lead science experiments in classrooms.
The Jr Scientists are taught lessons that meet fifth grade science standards. Twice a month, they walk the few blocks to the neighboring elementary and lead groups of fifth or sixth graders in these experiments. From mineral identification to properties of liquids the cross-age mentoring has become a huge success in helping make learning science fun. The Jr Scientists become mentors and learn responsibility. The elementary students get the opportunity to explore cool experiments while their teachers have time to observe student learning and interactions. We are excited to be expanding to another school cohort next year and our fifth and sixth grade learners will hone their mentoring skills this month as they begin teaching science to first grade and kindergarten.