Subject: Mars-O-Mania
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 1996 20:39:33, -0500

-- [ From: Rhonda Toon * EMC.Ver #2.5.1 ] --

Hello all,
	Seeing the Mars Night discussion, prompted me to share two activities
we have conducted at our school with much success.  One is an annual
event called Pals-O-Mania.  The other is a science "festival" of sorts.
	Pals-O-Mania could possibly be converted to Mars-O-Mania.  In Pals-O-
mania teachers get together and choose science concepts--like light and
color, magnetism--broad ideas.  Each teacher agrees to "host" two
concepts in her room and for several weeks we mix our kids up according
to topics they choose to research and cooperatively present.  As a self-
contained teacher I normally teach the same group of kids but during
Pals-science all kids who are interested in heat and energy and simple
machines, for example,  might be in my classroom every afternoon.  The
teachers provide support and help kids locate materials, but the
students themselves plan and implement a 20 minute presentation on their
topic.  These kids form a presentation team, research their topic and
come up with a way to teach it.  During the Pals-O-Mania event itself,
each team mans a station which is visited by younger students on a
rotating basis.  Last year Pals-O-Mania lasted four days.  We had
approximately 100 fourth and fifth graders present demonstrations and
teach approximately 200 kindergarten, first and second graders.

	We've had kids come up with some incredible demonstrations.  One year
two children (both identified as remedial) created musical instruments
out of all kinds of found materials to teach about sounds.  I'll never
forget those guys working together on the back stoop of my patio with
hammer and nails, and rubber bands and how pleased they were to show how
the sounds changed as the rubber bands changed on their "design".  Kids
made elaborate shadow puppets, used tuning forks in water to show
vibration, the list goes on and on and....

	 I was thinking that we could possibly have the kids take areas of
study related to Mars this year.  Since all of the teachers involved in
this program are 'looping" and all but one will have the same group of
kids next year, we could extend this event into the fall of 1997.

	The "festivals" in this past have mostly been simulations.  In every
one we have converted our media center into a hands-on interactive
"museum".  During a study of the ocean, we used heavy plastic to
contruct a life-size blue whale and during a themed festival on space we
did a simulated launch and converted a bus into a shuttle.  During a
dinosaur festival my students wrote and produced a video.  We used it as
the in-flight movie when we turned one of our mobile classrooms into an
airplane so we could "travel" to a "dig site".  The dig site was a large
area we set up as an excavation site. Kids used brushes and small tools
to explore the site, catalogue their findings, etc.  During the ocean
study parents set up stations all around the campus.  Teachers signed up
to take their students to the various sites for activities like: 
cleaning a mock oil spill, hearing a talk by a trained diver, exploring
water density with saltwater, etc.  A similar 'festival" idea could be
done with Mars.  Volunteers could man sites around the school and
classes could visit the sites--

	At our school we usually have a group of about five or six teachers who
spearhead the festival, but they are always a lot of fun, and get kids
talking about science!

	  Anyway, thought I'd share my brain spurts!