Excellence in education: Bringing science to life at Truckee High School | SierraSun.com

Excellence in education: Bringing science to life at Truckee High School

Shelly Purdy
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The concept of a high school science lab is being redefined at Truckee High School with the help of some innovative teachers and grant funding from the Excellence in Education Foundation.

Through games, experiments and other hands-on activities, students aren't just studying science they are experiencing it firsthand. The objective is to help students gain a deeper understanding of what they are learning.

In teacher Sue Lowder's 9th-grade science class, her students use the CPO Atom Building Game to create isotopes of atoms using marbles. The students manipulate the marbles to show what is happening to an atom when the nucleus decays.

"Playing the game allows the students to visualize very abstract concepts from quantum theory. It's advanced science, but the game helps make the science more accessible to the students," says Lowder.

Another tool the students use is a CPO Light Box. Shining different colored light onto glow in the dark paper, the students can observe how some light sources make the paper glow and some do not. The activity helps the students understand the different colors of light.

Throughout the past several years the Excellence in Education Foundation has provided tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding for these and many other science materials and programs at Truckee High School.

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The materials help bring science to life for the students by providing hands-on learning opportunities in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Additionally, Excellence in Education was one of the sponsors of the November 5th STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) fair held at Truckee High School.

Participants of all ages had the opportunity to experience science first hand at over 45 different booths staffed by community businesses and organizations. Booths offered everything from robotics to atmospheric science to surgery to blacksmithing.

The Excellence in Education fall grant cycle just closed and the Foundation is excited to see what new and innovative ideas are submitted this year. The funds used to award grants are raised through a number of Excellence in Education programs such as Dining for Schools cards, Skiing for Schools, Golfing for Schools and "Friends of Education" donations to the Foundation.

For more information visit http://www.exined.org.

Shelly Purdy is an Excellence in Education board member.