While some children were playing at the pool or watching TV, about 70 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students were using their summer vacation to learn more about science.
The Summer Science Experience, a program offered through Georgia State University and DeKalb County Schools, brought teacher candidates and alumni of the university’s Urban Accelerated Certification and Master’s Program together to teach science lessons twice a week at Idlewood Elementary School in Tucker.
“The program represents a tiered approach to education: children learning about science and literacy, pre-service teachers learning about teaching and learning and veteran teachers learning about mentorship,” said Brian Williams, assistant professor in Georgia State’s Early Childhood Education Department and the Summer Science Experience coordinator.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays for three weeks in June, children participated in different activities to learn about the way things change. They grew small plants in cups of soil, made homemade ice cream, recycled newspaper to make new sheets of paper and learned to be keen observers on a nature trail behind the school.
In addition to the science curriculum, the summer experience also put an emphasis on literacy. Students wrote sentences and poems using science vocabulary words, learned how to search for words and definitions in the dictionary and read books about recycling.
The summer experience began with Georgia State alumni teaching these lessons and the teacher candidates assisting, but by the end of the three weeks, their roles were reversed.
Tasha Gomes, one of the teacher candidates from Georgia State, worked with the third graders on their science, reading and writing skills.
“I loved working with the kids in small groups, when you can talk to three or four kids and know that they’re getting the material,” she said.
In addition, Gomes and her fellow classmates had guidance from alumni like Daina Perez, who graduated with her master’s degree from Georgia State in 2007 and is a pre-K teacher at Idlewood.
“We know how the teacher candidates feel and we know where they need to be,” Perez said. “They’ve made a lot of adjustments, but I think they’re finally seeing themselves as real teachers.”
For more information on the Urban Accelerated Certification and Master’s Program, visit www.education.gsu.edu/ece/1511.html.