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Science Night: Rock-sorting, butter-making, and slime production

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 11:57 pm in elementary schools, science.

Family Science Night

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in West Oakland is taking its science and math lessons up a notch this year — and to do it, Principal Roma Groves told me, the faculty is enlisting parents’ help.

This evening, the school held its first Family Science Night to let parents know about the school’s new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) focus. Teachers led demonstrations while parents helped out or took it all in.

I didn’t make it to all the classrooms, but I observed a geology lesson and watched the liquid substances kids dropped into a plastic baggie turn into goo. And I tried some butter another group of kids made (pretty good!).

making slime

Jasella Jones said she doesn’t remember getting any science when she attended another West Oakland elementary school, years ago. Now, she said, her 8-year-old daughter Amunique Usher comes home from school and teaches her — and her younger siblings — what she’s learned.

“She always has important questions that I can’t answer about the moon and the stars and the sun,” Jones said. “Just imagine what the future holds, not only for her, but for her kids and her grandkids and everyone else.”

Michele Williams’ first-graders took home their ziploc bags of neon-colored slime — but only after solemnly swearing to take care of it and not eat it, or smear it on other children, or use it “as a rocket.” (I hear that was a recent addition, and not entirely hypothetical.)

What do your schools do to promote science and to involve families in the process?

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  • Precious James

    I am so proud of the families that stopped by tonight! We had a great time at FSN and I cannot wait for more to come.

  • AH

    Our kids do science projects every single year, even in kindy. Also, each classroom has a parent or two who is an actual scientist come and talk to the kids about their jobs and how they use science. The kids’ science projects are on display in the classroom for Open House night in the spring, but I think something might be in the works to have an actual science fair.

    MLK Jr. Elementary has a good approach too.

  • LOUISE OATIS

    OUSD POSSIBLE SCHOOL CLOSURES?????

    FOR THE RECORD I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF CLOSING ANY OAKLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS AT THIS TIME. OUSD NEEDS TO TRY ALL OPTIONS BEFORE SHUTTING THE FUTURE LEADERS OF OAKLAND OUR TREASURED STUDENTS.
    MY GRANDSON ATTENDS THURGOOD MARSHALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. IT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY TO SHUT DOWN A MODEL SCHOOL WHICH LEARNING,COMPREHENSION,WRITING,MATH &
    READING IS TAUGHT IN K-5 CLASSES. WE HAVE 80% OF THE SPECIAL NEEDS POPULATION ATTENDING THURGOOD MARSHALL SCHOOL. THEY ARE INCLUDED IN THE GENERAL EDUCATION CLASSES AT ALL GRADE LEVELS. THIS IS A MODEL PROGRAM SINCE NO ONE CAN TELL OUR STUDENTS APART BASED ON THEIR
    ACADEMIC RESPONSES. THERE IS 42.5 MILLIONS DOLLARS FOR
    OUSD TO EXPAND SCHOOL CAMPUSES. THEY SHOULD CONSIDER EXPANDING THE MARSHALL CAMPUS TO HOUSE THEIR TARGET OF
    380 STUDENTS PER CAMPUS. THE ALA COSTA BUILDING COULD
    BE TORN DOWN AND A TWO STORY STRUCTURE BUILT TO HOUSE
    CLASSES ON THE FIRST AND SECOND FLOOR. ALSO, THE ALA COSTA OFFICE WOULD OCCUPY THE FIRST FLOOR. OUR LIBRARY AND COMPUTER ROOMS COULD BE MOVED OUTSIDE IN PORTABLES. IF THIS DESIGN IS NOT FEASIBLE THERE IS SPACE TO RECONFIGURATE THIS MODEL SCHOOL TO HOUSE THE PROJECTED STUDENT POPULATION OF 380 STUDENTS. CURRENTLY THE SCHOOL IS DESIGNED TO HOLD ABOUT 240 STUDENTS. THE NORTH OAKLAND POPULATION OF SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOLS COULD BE CENTERED AT SANTA FE OR LAKEVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. I BELIEVE SANTA FE HAS THE REMAINING 20% OF SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS. THIS WOULD BE IDEAL TO KEEP STUDENTS ON A LEARNING CURVE TO IMPROVE THEIR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT WITH INSTRUCTORS WHO HAVE AT LEAST 10 TO 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN. IT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY TO SEND OUR MARSHALL SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN TOTALING 53 IN NUMBER.SENDING THEM TO ACORN OR ENCOMPASS CAMPUSES WHO PRESENTLY HOUSE 6 STUDENTS WITH INSTRUCTORS WHO WOULD HAVE TO LEARN WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE BEFORE REAL ACADEMIC SUCCESS COULD BE REACHED. WHY REINVENT THE WHEEL WHEN THE IDEAL PROGRAM IS WORKING WITH EXCELLENT RESULTS.
    TRUANCY IS A PROBLEM AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. OUSD SHOULD ADDRESS ACCOUNTABLITY AT THE HIGH SCHOOLS TO INCREASE ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND FUNDING PER STUDENT TO BOOST GRADUATING SENIORS. 2 MILLION DOLLARS CAN BE FOUND TO SAVE OUR SCHOOLS IF YOU LOOK FOR IMPROVEMENT IN EXISITING AREAS OF OUSD. NOT TO MENTION A FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN INITIATED BY OUSD TO CORPORATE DONORS. PUBLIC SCHOOLS MUST BE RAN EFFICIENTLY AND KEEP WITHIN THEIR BUDGETS I AGREE. HOWEVER, PUBLIC SCHOOLS WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE RAN FOR PROFIT MAKING VENTURES EXCEPT TO GRADUATE AS MANY QUALIFIED STUDENTS TO ENTER COLLEGE OR VOCATIONAL TRAINING.

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks for your comment, Louise. If you or anyone else would like to continue the discussion about school closures, you can take it to this blog post, which is on the subject: http://www.ibabuzz.com/education/2011/10/13/how-many-schools-are-in-ousd-anyway/

  • Mrs. Regina Brooks-Day

    MLK Science Night was awesome! It was so nice to see so many parents participating in a science project with their child. So Great to see… Our students are young scientists in practice. I look forward to more great Science Nights at MLK. All smiles…..

  • Muriel

    Kudos to Principal Groves, MLK teachers, students and families. And thanks to OUSD central office for letting MLK once again be MLK.

    When I taught there ten years ago, there was Family Math and Science Night, educational assemblies, and an after school drama program that put on performances for the school and others. There was a variety of after school activities.

    Students enjoyed a well-stocked and staffed library open to all classes, a staffed computer lab, science and science kits, and athletic equipment appropriate for K-3 students to name just a few of the educational resources.

    In addition, MLK’s cafeteria served hot food, prepared on site, and offered a well stocked salad bar with fresh fruits and vegetables.

    This is the best kind of deja vu. I hope this signals a commitment by the school board and administration to provide MLK and Oakland’s schools with the resources necessary to offer a full education to our more than deserving young people.

  • Amybg

    This looks awesome. Bravo!