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School Stories

Grade 3: Using Teamwork and Science to Save a Gummy Worm

While it may be her first year teaching at Graland, Lower School science teacher Elise de Geus has not wasted any time creating engaging, thought-provoking, and fun science lessons for her students. 

"I love all of the opportunities that Graland provides its scholars," Ms. de Geus said. Between the Gates Lab and field trips, it is easy to see why students are so engaged in their science curriculum. I have also loved that Graland gives teachers the opportunity to be creative with their curriculum so that we can teach our passions!"
As a former zookeeper, Ms. de Geus has many stories and experiences to share with her students and even brought her bearded dragon, Stanley, to Graland as the science class pet. 

To start off the Grade 3 science block, Ms. de Geus challenged her students to save a gummy worm named Sammy through innovation, teamwork, and a few helpful tools. 

"Save the gummy worm is one of my favorite ways to start off a science unit," Ms. de Geus said. "Students must work together to get Sammy the gummy worm through a lifesaver using only paper clips. The objective of the activity is to get students thinking critically, encourage perseverance, and reinforce the scientific process. Students are challenged to design (and in some cases redesign) a plan and must work as a team to complete the challenge."

During the activity, Ms. de Geus observed a classroom full of students eager to create solutions, implement ideas, and achieve their goals. "I was extremely impressed by the teamwork and innovation each table displayed," Ms. de Geus said. "Students were ready to jump in and help their teammates, had positive attitudes, and kept trying with enthusiasm throughout the challenge. I was also impressed by their integrity. Everyone was willing to try and solve the problem within the parameters set."

For Ms. de Geus, "Save the Gummy Worm" is just one of many lessons this year that will encourage inquisitiveness and curiosity in her students. "A successful day in science class involves a challenge that pushes students to think outside of the box, allows them to use their imagination, and ends in an 'a-ha' moment," Ms. de Geus said. "I love watching students push through challenges and seeing their excitement when their hard work pays off."

In science class this year, Grade 3 will be learning about natural disasters, astronomy, fresh-water ecology, and the states of matter. Stay tuned for more fun experiments with Ms. de Geus!

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.