Art in their science; educators work hard to make learning fun

October 9, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Dalina Castellanos, Tucson Citizen] — Students gape as liquid nitrogen shoots out of a glass beaker and falls like snow onto their desks. “It’s so cold it hurts,” says one student, his hair covered in white. Earlier, four students were put into a “vacuum bag of death,” and not long after, lightning struck in the Presidio School science classroom.

It’s all in a day’s work for the Physics Factory, which visited Presidio, a charter school recently named as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The Physics Factory travels to schools, making the learning fun. “That was awesome,” says Clara Ibarra, 10, during the physics lesson. Her favorite: the “vacuum bag of death,” where two students are placed neck-high in a bag that is connected to a vacuum and end up looking like a huge human raisin.

So how do students learn from being sucked in a bag? “It’s an interest generator,” says Vaughn Mantor, science teacher at Presidio. “If they can remember (what they saw), they can later be taught the physics behind it.”

Student volunteers for the Physics Factory can vouch for that. “I like to do the activities, but I understand that I need to learn everything behind it,” says Sabrina Nu