'Science Kid' project helps classmates learn


Each week, Shelly Clay gives a special bag to one of her second grade students. The student takes the bag home and uses the materials inside to design his or her own science experiment, usually with the help of their parents. The children practice at home and perform their experiments for the class on Friday.

"They have to be prepared to walk us through what's happening and why it's happening," Clay said. "And then answer any questions that the kids have."

Clay said popular experiments have involved investigating the difference between solids, liquids and gasses, and what happens when those states of matter mix.

"The volcano is a big one," Clay said.

The "Science Kid" project is about teaching children the scientific process, Clay said. The students make a hypothesis, design an experiment and observe what happens when the experiment is conducted. Then, they analyze why the results of the experiment occurred the way they did.

"It allows them to understand science a lot more," Clay said, "To get hands-on with science."

Clay said the project can also incorporate the engineering process, using science and math to create something or fix something. She said she hoped to help her students learn to use math and science together with critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Clay said she got the idea for the "Science Kid" project from a similar project her own children participated in when they were in school.

"It gives the kids just a whole new way of thinking," Clay said. "The critical thinking and the problem solving behind it sometimes is so much more important than finding the right answer."

Clay said every student in her class gets a turn to be the "Science Kid" and only one student per week is chosen.