Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Science Lessons That Really Rock; Microscopes Give Students Visual Learning Tools That Help with FCAT, Teacher Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Science Lessons That Really Rock; Microscopes Give Students Visual Learning Tools That Help with FCAT, Teacher Says

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

Science teacher Karen Sinclair placed a grape-sized piece of marble under a microscope, then watched as Griffin Moody, her fifth-grade "assistant," squeezed several drops of lemon juice onto it.

"It's not soaking in," said another student, Cullen Smith.

"Good observation," Sinclair said.

Cullen and his classmates in Sinclair's class at Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Rawlings Elementary School observed the interaction of various liquids on a variety of rocks Thursday thanks to a new microscope that projects magnified images onto a large screen.

With funds from a mini grant from the Ponte Vedra Education Foundation, the school purchased four Digimicro digital microscopes, which take still photos, record video and magnify objects from 50 to 200 times. The equipment, which is easy for students to operate, is being used to help the school's fifth-graders improve their science scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which begins Tuesday.

The foundation, which funds mini grants to teachers at all Ponte Vedra schools, awarded Sinclair $413.97 for her "Scoping through Science" project, and she is sharing the equipment with other fifth-grade teachers.

Thursday, she set one of the microscopes up in front of her room to reinforce a lesson she'd previously taught about "chemical weathering," the process by which chemicals in the natural environment break down rocks through chemical reactions over a long period.

When Griffin squeezed a few drops of calcium carbonate onto a piece of sandstone, everyone in the class could watch on the screen.

When there was no reaction, Griffin next tried vinegar, which caused a few white bubbles to appear, then lemon juice, which caused a little more bubbling. …

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