Area teachers receive science kits for classrooms
With the start of the school year right around the corner, six area teachers are off to head start after participating in the Arkema Science Teacher Program in Blooming Prairie.
Each summer, Arkema shared time, resources and expertise in order to spark students curiosity and generate enthusiasm for the sciences.
Teachers from Blooming Prairie Elementary School, Southland Schools and IJ Holton Intermediate School from Austin attended the three-day event, which took place Aug. 6-8.
"We thought it would be good experience for us to have," said Hailey Hasleiet, Blooming Prairie fourth-grade teacher.
Each teacher selected a science kit that contains teaching aids and tools related to a specific topic. Each kit includes materials and instructions for classroom science demonstrations that engage students and bring concepts to life.
Teachers were able to choose their areas of interest and work with together with their Arkema mentors, who provide the teachers with hands-on mentoring to help discover new ways to make science fun and interesting for their students, to master the science kits experiments.
The Blooming Prairie teachers choose the Energy and Electromagnetism kit while IJ Intermediate Schools and Southland selected the Structures of Life and the Soils, Rocks and Landforms Living kits, respectively.
Hasleiet said BP already has the materials from the Rocks, Soils and Landforms Living kits, so they decided to go with the Energy and Electromagnetism kit this year.
"Electromagnetism is something that fourth and fifth graders work with also," she said. "That's why we request this one is because it's stuff that we don't have very much of, so now she will be able to work on this stuff with our kids more."
Despite teaching social studies, Hasleiet said she still wanted to attend the event focused around science.
"I could end up teaching science in the future," she said. "Even though I don't currently teach science, there could always be a time where we decide to change things or if I switched grade levels or anything like that.
"Since my students are still doing it, I should understand it and have a good knowledge of what they are working on in science class."
Hasleiet said it's been nice to have some time to play with the kits.
"That's been really nice," she said. "As a teacher during the school year, we don't have quite as much time to dive into the material ourselves."
Hasleiet said it's important for students to do as many hands-on activities as possible, especially when it comes to science.
"I think that's the easiest way for them to learn and retain the knowledge," she said. "It's so much better than just us standing up there talking. A lot of the time kids can learn and figure out things before we even teach and lecture them about it. We like to let them investigate, teach them and then let them investigate a little more."
Teachers also learned about Arkema and were given a tour of the plant.
"That was pretty cool," Hasleiet said. "We are in town all the time, but prior to yesterday I had no idea what it was that they did here. So that was cool to get a plant tour. It's good to be able to talk to our students about Arkema and what they do here, and now we know what's going on.
"Everyone at the school really appreciates Arkema putting this on for us," she continued. "It's a really good experience. It's nice because it kind of helps us get back into our rhythm right before we go back to school. We are really lucky for them to do this for us."
Reporting annual sales of $9.4 billion in 2017, Arkema employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide and operates in close to 55 countries.
Since its inception in 1996, teachers who have participated in the Program have shared what they have learned with more than 50,000 students nationwide, most of whom are from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes.
Arkema Plant Manager Michael Green said having a program like this is beneficial for everyone involved because not only are they helping schools, but they are also serving their owns interests in a way.
"Teacher are facing a very big challenge these days," he said. "They are tasks with coming up with new creative ideas and ways to get the kids excited and giving them that hands-on experiences that ties back to what they learned from their books. We're happy we can provide another creative research and take a little bit of the burden off of them them.
"At the same time, hopefully it is creating a bigger talent pool by having more resources and creating more interest in the sciences, engineering and math," he continued. "We want to build that in the local community. When I go out to hire someone I would prefer to hire somebody with local connections."
Teachers receive a stipend for attending the Arkema science camp and their schools receive a $500 grant to replenish kit materials. Cost of the kits is covered by Arkema.