A Penny For Their Thoughts: Incoming freshmen go through science boot camp

The focus of the summer Science Bootcamp at Granite HIlls High School was to allow incoming freshmen students to learn about technology used in the high school laboratories to allow them to help their peers when they start high school.

The science classes rotated each day during the three day camp to allow students to learn to use the microscope in biology lab, the physics lab where they learned to use a circuit board, an OHM-S Lab and the Chemistry lab where they learned how to analyze three different salts using a magnetic stir bar.

Granite Biology teacher Dara Schieler taught the biology lab, Elissa Lombardi was teaching Chemistry and Physics, while Cody Diliberto taught the Physics lab.

All of the students attending the camp were either in the Academy of Career Education, ACE, Pathway studying education, the CODE Pathway studying computer science or the Law, Justice and Ethics Pathway.

Lombardi said during the three day bootcamp which began on Tuesday there were about 40 students.

"With all three pathways together we are really blessed to have the (Porterville Unified School) District Pathways helping us with our incoming freshmen," said Rich Lambie, who was overseeing the bootcamp, which has been done for the past four years at Granite.

"All these incoming freshmen students who are in the Pathways programs learn about STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math),” he said. “ And a lot of these kids have never worked in a lab. These kids are now working on a new computer called LAB QUEST learning formulas, working in the Physics lab learning about electrical currents, and in the biology lab learning to use microscopes.

If it wasn't for the PUSD Pathways providing the equipment and training we wouldn't be able to do the bootcamp. This is a huge plus, plus for us. And these kids are becoming 21st century learners."

Lambie explained many junior colleges don't have the LAB Quest computers. And the students at Granite are getting excited about STEM and learning, and they're making connections with other Pathways students crossing curriculum, he said.

"This is the best of both worlds,” Lambie said. “Using hands-on learning. Not just looking at slides but actually creating slides.

The freshmen students are also bonding with other kids, and this will help their confidence when the school year starts.”

“With Pathways we created a family, within a family at GHHS, and it builds a tight bond for the kids and teachers," Lambie added. And he explained the teachers put in many hours every year developing the Science Bootcamp which is in its fourth year. 

And during the camp kids learn how important math is in all the STEM applications. And because of that the math scores at Granite have been consistently improving.

Two incoming freshmen girls, Jazzy Childree and Natalie Hernandez, both 14, were at the boot camp and were in the estimation skills class using math graphing skills in STEM to estimate the weight and amount of pennies. 

Students learned to use a new skill for the first hour in camp before breaking into the Physics, Biology and Chemistry classes, explained Lambie after class.

Hernandez who was at Tipton Elementary, said she was relearning things she'd forgotten about: how to use a graph and how to do specific math for a science lab. And she was learning how to use a Labquest Computer. She said, "We measured the density and PH of liquids, and we identified them by using cabbage juice formula."

Childree said she was enjoying what she was learning and she was meeting new people at the camp. The hands-on learning has been a different experience from St. Anne's, and the technology is more modern, she said.

In the skills building classroom Elissa Lombardi was teaching students about using equations to estimate the amount of pennies, and using graphs. She explained the pennies used were either old or new, and could be all different ages, but they were a tool used in the math exercise.

She had the students weigh 40 pennies, and then weigh 85 pennies, and the students learned how to estimate the weight based on the average amount of the pennies, said Granite Intern Itzelle Carino, who was helping the students.

Lombardi explained to the students stores estimate the amount of products they sell, no one hand counts anything, nowadays. Stores and the people who work there learn to extrapolate or estimate the number of items sold, for instance a "how much does a pound of nails cost, itemized by the cost of a nail, for instance.”

She gave students graph paper and showed them how to use the graph and mark it while also using the Lab Quest which is about the size of an Iphone or small tablet but has the capacity of a large computer. They could look at the Lab Quest and mark their findings on their graph paper. 

The students used different variations of counting the pennies and marking their graphs, counting by 10's, 20's, and learned to properly plot graphs and label them as in Lombardi's Chemistry class.

Katarina Burd said she was enjoying the skills building class and learning a lot.

"We are getting to learn a lot of new things, and it is really interesting," said Alexander Marquez, who said he was also having a good time, "but it's a bit hard, but we are learning."

"You have to understand these complex theories and interpret the chemistry, physics, biology problems. But it gets a lot more interesting when we work with Chemistry," said Carino.

Another intern, Keren Lopez, said she had fun helping out in the bootcamp classes and it was always great to have these opportunities.

https://www.recorderonline.com/ Source: Porterville Recorder