Saturdays Mixed with Science, Art and Technology are a Perfect Match for Mountain View School District GATE Students

  • (Courtesy Photo)
  • (Coutesy Photo)
  • (Courtesy Photo)

By Michele Earle
April 30, 2014 • 618 views

El Monte -

Students in the Mountain View School District’s Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) program have enhanced their scientific, artistic and technological skills over the past month as they’ve taken part in the District’s Spring GATE Institute.  Over the course of four Saturdays, 80 students participated in 3-hour classes provided by experts in their field and instructors from the Youth Science Center (YSC).

Happy to spend part of their Saturdays engaged in scientific study, artistic expression and technology, the students didn’t mind the additional time in school. Experimentation and artistic creations were abundant as students took part their classes.   Dr. Richard Shope, a professor at U.C. Irvine and research consultant for JPL led students in an Astrobiology Exhibition, where they participated in hands-on expeditions promoting team work as well as learning to use remote sensing data and science instruments to explore Earth processes.  Web designer, Anthony Tanaka taught students the key components of designing their own web page and Paul Burns, a Youth Science Center instructor provided Blending Art and Science where 3rd-5th grade students mixed the sciences of matter, motion, energy, and more with the artistic styles of artists, creating wonderful pieces such as a 3-D family tree of pets, and skeletal system of a bird.  Local renowned artist, Dolores Haro led a class in Art designed to develop and broaden the students’ critical and creative thinking skills. Students enjoyed using their imagination to create watercolor pieces and acrylic canvas paintings.

Using the scientific inquiry model, students experimented with corn starch and water to learn about polymers.  Christian, a sixth grader from Madrid Middle School was surprised to see that when he slapped his hand in the mixture, the liquid did not splash.

“That’s cool!” he exclaimed.  “When we softly touch it it feels very wet and drips down our hands, but when we slap and splash the mixture fast it doesn’t move.  That’s because the polymers stay together.”

A group of students had fun concocting the best solution to create gas that would make a small container pop and explode.  Working with soda, Mentos candies, vinegar and antacid tablets they found the antacid tablet worked best to generate the highest flight of the container.

“Mixing the items together made a gas that created carbon dioxide which shot the container in the air,” said Lyza, an 8th grader from Monte Vista. “I really like doing all the science experiments but the best part of the Saturday GATE program is getting to hang out with friends and still learn a lot of stuff,” she said.

“Dissecting a squid was awesome!” said 4th grader, Elyana.  “It was sort of gross but cool and we learned about the squid’s organs.  I like the Saturday classes because we get to do stuff that’s different from what we do in class at school.”

According to Patricia Stanzon, YSC instructor, the students were very organized and did a terrific job with their studies.
“It’s incredible how Mountain View School District provides this for the students.  The Saturday institute is a wonderful opportunity for the kids to explore a variety of scientific study.”

A beautiful display of watercolor art covered the wall in the art class where students put brush to canvas and created beautiful masterpieces.

“It is fun painting,” said Gustavo who was painting a Canadian goose on his canvas.  “I decided to paint the goose because all my friends call me Goose.  Doing the water color was fun but I think I like the canvas better.”

This year’s institute included college students from Eco Voices who worked with the GATE students and shared their scientific knowledge.

“I was greatly impressed with the students and their motivation for learning,” said Rachel from Eco Voices.  “During their experimentations they displayed higher level thinking and many of them excelled better than some college students I’ve worked with. I was very proud of them.”

The Mountain View School District greatly appreciates the dedication and effort of the instructors and the Youth Science Center for providing such an enriching learning experience for students.

“The Saturday GATE Institute offers our students an incredible opportunity to explore science, art and technology in depth and the expertise brought to the program by Dr. Shope, Mr. Burns, Mr. Tanaka, Mrs. Haro and the Eco Voices students is tremendous,” said Darin DeKnikker, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.   “It’s always great to see the excitement and enthusiasm for learning displayed by the students as they engage in the activities.”

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