Students are learning lessons while helping others

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The second-grade classes at Watsessing Elementary School last week enjoyed some hands-on science work with a dollop of kindness stirred in for good measure.

The students of Laura Foster and Cathy Velardi collected and melted broken pieces of crayon into various multicolored forms. The “Green Team Initiative” project was for Earth Day and highlighted recycling.
“The Green Team Initiative was to do it with an act of kindness,” Foster said. “The new crayons will be wrapped and given to a children’s hospital.”

The new forms are no longer cylinders but instead include shapes such as hearts, stars and ladybugs.
“It’s a fun gift to give,” she said. “In the science curriculum, the children learn what things are made of. This project ties in nicely with science and Earth Day.”

Since the beginning of the 2017 school year, a method of learning science aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards was initiated in the Bloomfield district. For kindergarten through fifth-grade students, the key word became “investigation.” No longer confined to books, students seek understanding through observation and inquiry. Conclusions are drawn based on the data they analyse.

At Watessing, silicone molds were filled with the assorted broken crayon bits. The molds went into the oven in the teachers’ kitchen.
“The melted crayon goes into a liquid and cools into a different shape,” Foster explained. “The project was done last year as part of science and tied into Earth Day this year. It’s a very hands-on approach to scientific investigation, but also seeing how things take shape.”

Not only do crayons, or Earth Day celebrations for that matter, take on different shapes for second-graders at Watsessing working with science.

“I did a combination lesson for science and ‘Read Across America,’” Velardi said. “I had the students follow a recipe for making ‘Ooey, Gooey Oobleck,’ which gets its name from the book ‘Bartholomew and the Oobleck,’ by Dr. Seuss. The science aspect of this was that oobleck acts like both a liquid and a solid.”

A quick look on the Internet characterizes Ooey, Gooey Oobleck as a playful slime resulting from the suspension of cornstarch in water. Furthermore, it was an example of a non-Newtonian fluid! This is one whose viscosity changes under stress. An example would be ketchup. To get it to flow, you shake the bottle.

The Watsessing second-graders’ crayons will be sent to the pediatric ward at Clara Maass Hospital.
“We will be placing them in small see-through plastic party bags and using green and blue curling ribbon to close them,” Velardi said. “Green and blue to correlate with the environment.”