Brenda Dwiggins A different spin on a traditional event has won a Santa Rosa County school a Florida Parent Teacher Association award.
Pea Ridge Elementary was one of two Region I schools to receive the PTA’s Family and Community Involvement Award during the association’s 2015 leadership convention July 16-19 in Palm Harbor. Griffin Middle School in Leon County also was recognized for the successful implementation of a program that encourages increased family and community engagement.
Pea Ridge rebranded its Science Night into Science Explorium where kindergartners through fifth-graders came up with, developed and presented experiments to their peers and judges.
More than 170 parents and 132 students turned out for the Science Explorium on Oct. 23 at the school. The event was co-sponsored by the school’s PTA, which also set project guidelines, provided monetary support for supplies and arranged partnerships between the elementary and Pace High’s Anchor Club and Taminco, a specialty chemical company with a facility in Pace. The PTA also provided gift cards and prizes to students for winning projects.
Brenda Dwiggins, assistant principal at Pea Ridge, said the event involved five weeks of project-based and hands-on collaborative learning.
“It incorporated all of our K through 5 students who created experiments that had to be interactive. Our teachers used all content in a project-based setting so language arts was integrated with science and math,” Dwiggins added.
She said fifth-graders did individual projects which they presented in class; third- and fourth-graders worked on group projects; and kindergartners, first- and second-graders worked on class projects.
“The biggest ‘aha’ moment was the increase in our science percentages on Discovery Education Assessments,” Dwiggins said. “Our scores increased from the September tests to January by 55 percent.”
She said several students came up with innovative projects — including a fifth-grader who, along with his father, demonstrated the Bernoulli principle. Also known as Bernoulli’s equation, the principle holds that for fluids in an ideal state, pressure and density are inversely related: in other words, a slow-moving fluid exerts more pressure than a fast-moving fluid. The principle can be found in the airplane, which stays aloft due to pressure differences on the surface of its wing.
“The father-and-son actually built three different airplane wings and used fans to show how the shape of wings reacted with the wind to demonstrate the principle,” Dwiggins said.
She said the Science Explorium was so successful that the school plans to try it again this fall.
“We’re trying to incorporate more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) standards into our classes at all levels,” she said. “The students did all of the research in class in collaborative groups, however the presentations, hypothesis and presentation boards were completed at home.”
Santa Rosa County School District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick applauded the school’s efforts.
“Santa Rosa District Schools celebrates Pea Ridge Elementary in their STEM initiative to focus families on math and science. Principal (Dana King) Fleming, the staff at Pea Ridge and the very supportive PTA continue to pursue excellence by providing students and the community with an evening of science and technology that encourages higher learning,” he said in a statement.
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Pea Ridge is a Happening Place where you will want to come and see what your children are doing.