Enlarge Grace Staten crushes up cereal to find iron in it during Achievement Center for Educational Success (ACES) science camp at Highlands Elementary Wednesday June 29, 2011. (The Huntsville Times/Robin Conn) More photos at photos.al.com/htphotos. Summer Science Project gallery (8 photos) HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Michael Jones was excited as he squirted dye on a tie-dyed T-shirt last week.
“Oh my gosh, I made brown,” said the kindergarten student during the Huntsville City Schools’ Federal Programs Summer Academy at Highlands Elementary School.
Michael knew why his mix of red, blue and yellow made brown – “I used a lot of colors,” he said. He had learned that lesson the week before in a science lab hosted by Achievement Center for Educational Success.
“We did an experiment with a tray with 24 wells,” said Latrice Thompson, the program manager for ACES. “They had to make 24 different colors with three colors.”
Introducing children to simple science through hands-on lessons is the way ACES works, said Thompson, who teaches fourth grade at Madison County’s Riverton Intermediate School during the school year.
Students in the program “are exposed to biology, physics and chemistry,” she said. “It’s basic, but it’s in a way they can physically understand it.”
The ACES program developed out of science lessons Thompson did with her son, Wesley, when he was 12. “I thought he didn’t get a lot of practice with science,” Thompson said.
Thompson first took the lessons she did with Wesley, who is now a nursing major at the University of South Alabama, to daycare centers. She now holds a science lab each summer at her own facility and hires teachers to conduct the lessons at places such as the Summer Academy, which is also held at West Mastin Lake Elementary and Ridgecrest Elementary.
The half-day academy is an enrichment program offered to children in grades K-5 who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. The academy provides the children with reading and math lessons and remediation during the summer months, said Carolyn Kelly, a curriculum specialist for the city schools’ federal program office.
ACES was part of the academy for “four enjoyable weeks,” this summer, Kelly said. Each Wednesday was a highly anticipated “science day” for the students.
Anuprova Bhowmik’s mother told Kelly her kindergarten-aged daughter wanted to go to bed early each Tuesday night so she would be ready for her science labs the next day.
“She says she wants to be a scientist now,” Kelly said.
Last week, on the last day of the science labs, the ACES teachers led students through seven activities, including making rockets and exploding volcanoes. They also crushed Total cereal and used strong magnets to see tiny filaments of iron moving around in the mix.
With all of the ACES science lessons, Thompson wants the children to feel engaged and have fun, like Michael as he worked on his T-shirt.
“Wow,” Michael said. “I just made orange.”