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Elementary students learn science concepts by solving mysteries

Elementary students learn science concepts by solving mysteries

Do you know why Guadalajara, Mexico, can get hit with frozen pellets in a hailstorm when the city is in a warm tropical climate? Third graders at Ridge Park Elementary School can explain it, thanks to Mystery Science.

In their “Stormy Skies” Mystery Science unit, the students explored how clouds are formed, what weather to expect with different types of clouds, and what happens during a hailstorm. The lessons are based on “inquiry,” where students make real world connections through answering questions.

“I really like the activities we do,” said third grader Sophie Gamboa. “It makes me learn more about science.”

Girl and boy smiling a camera

The students often work with a partner.

The class was surprised to learn that the coldest clouds were found in the warmest climates, because the warm air pushes the clouds up higher in the sky where the atmosphere is cooler. When raindrops get pushed up into the cold clouds, they can become hail. 

“Science is exciting, because you get to solve mysteries, and you get to explore deeper into things,” said third grader Luna Biemesderfer. 

Girl and boy working together on a worksheet

Ridge Park third graders brought their math skills to science class to compare data about hailstorms in four regions of the United States during the four seasons of 2022.

In addition to offering hands-on lessons, Mystery Science also encourages students to send in questions they answer in weekly video mini-lessons. Luna recently submitted a question that was chosen.

“I asked how do you know if you need glasses. I always liked going to the eye doctor, but I never knew how they knew if your eyes were better or worse,” said Luna. “We found out that different eyes are different shapes, and that was interesting. Some shaped eyes need glasses for further, and some need glasses for closer.” 

Luna standing in front a white board displaying her question

Luna Biemesderfer with her question

“Kids have thousands of why questions, and Mystery Science gives them a place to ask them and then be highlighted,” said third grade teacher Jennie Hill. “It was a classroom pride moment when Luna got picked. We were all really excited.”

Colonial School District uses the Mystery Science curriculum in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Two children comparing data while lying on carpet in class