How can I invent a package that never ends up in a landfill?
What does it take to build a filter that makes water safe enough for humans to drink?
Why do roller coasters work?
These are the questions scholars pose to themselves as they prepare for their middle school’s Exploratorium. During the four-week stretch between Thanksgiving and Winter Recess, science classrooms across Success Academy middle schools are transformed into laboratories, middle school scholars into scientists, and teachers into research directors. The Science Exploratorium, a showcase of self-driven, inquiry-based projects, empowers scholars to put science and engineering into action.
Scholars spend many hours planning, building, and experimenting, using every science class during this period until they find the answers. The projects cover a wide range of subjects: earth science (fifth grade), life science (sixth grade), chemistry (seventh grade), and physics (eighth grade). The Exploratorium gives scholars the chance to take academic and intellectual risks, make mistakes, and learn about science and themselves.
The Exploratorium gives scholars the chance to take academic and intellectual risks, make mistakes, and learn about science and themselves.
Their work culminates in a university-style symposium attended by school staff, community members, and families. Scholars present their work, take questions and feedback, and peer review their classmates.
“The Exploratorium helps scholars grow as scientists in fundamental ways by helping them understand the scientific method and experimental design, but it also goes deeper than that,” said SA Harlem West science teacher Christina Carfora. “A lot of scholars come out of the Exploratorium feeling empowered to pursue a career in STEM. They start to see themselves as scientists, as a part of science — not just as participants in science class.”