The Fall 2016 Physical Science classes at ConVal brought an innovation to the way the courses were taught: students could voluntarily contract with their teachers to go above and beyond class expectations to engage in research- and project-based, Honors level work. ConVal’s flexible learning block TASC was used to accommodate the students’ research projects during the regular school day.
On Tuesday, in a crowded library, Physical Science students displayed their research and projects to the public. The essential questions that guided their work varied widely:
- Is the Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), which is to run through portions of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, truly a necessity?
- What is heat transfer and how can it be avoided in residential homes through various insulation options?
- Greenhouses made from glass or plastic: which material is better?
Other student research concentrated on practical matters, such as: how to prevent bats from entering houses without harming the animals, how to clean copper pennies effectively and with materials readily available in households, and how to read a book if someone has lost the use of his hands.
The Physical Science Honors ELO Fair was the idea of Carol Young, head of the Science Department at ConVal. “The night was a celebration of our 9th grade students’ best work, and I’m glad so many people were able to attend,” Young said. “The ELO projects met and exceeded my expectations, and I appreciate the tremendous support of so many community members for this undertaking. Not only did the students gain a greater understanding of science and engineering concepts, they also learned a lot about time management, solving problems, and persistence. The students showed a genuine commitment to their learning throughout the ELO process, and I am proud of their achievements.”