OMSI workshop lets fourth-graders take a hands-on approach to the ‘Voyage of Discovery’

Experiencing science

Fourth-graders make star finders at the OMSI interactive workshop at Dorothy Fox Elementary School in Camas.

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Brielle Bradshaw (left) and Madeline Wood create a relief map using stones for different landmarks.

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These fourth-graders try to get their bearings using a compass. Cartography was one of the interactive stations.

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Jaimie Thompson shows fourth-graders how to make a “star finder.”

Most adults remember learning about the Lewis and Clark expedition in their textbooks, which is not always the most exciting or memorable way to experience history.But fourth-graders at Dorothy Fox Elementary School in Camas had the opportunity to learn about the famous “Voyage of Discovery” through an Oregon Museum of Science and Industry interactive outreach workshop.

It included different hands-on stations exploring cartography, taxonomy, anthropology, astronomy and botany.

“Some kids, especially in more rural areas, don’t have the opportunity to come to OMSI,” said Jaimie Thompson, who teaches the outreach program. “We like to take science out to them. Also, it is difficult for science teachers to have all the different resources needed for teaching something like this. We bring it to them. That way, kids can read about it, see films and do hands-on activities.

Fourth-grade teacher Carolyn Saiget applied for a grant from the Camas Educational Foundation to bring the OMSI program to Dorothy Fox.

“I am a frequent flyer when it comes to CEF grants,” Saiget said. “I’ve applied for and received several grants both as an individual teacher an a team member. And OMSI has always had a reputation for having quality programs.”

During the workshop, students visited the various stations and learned how to create a star finder for constellations; made a peace medallion similar to those given to Native American chiefs; touched animal fur, horns and skulls; and used compasses to map and find landmarks in the room.

“I like the interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to learning and having our students exposed to other learning experiences, different than what we can normally offer in the classroom,” Saiget said. “This year, because of our shrinking budget, our team chose not to take any field trips. While it isn’t quite the same, having an OMSI presentation come to us helps make up for the field strips that we did not take this year. It’s unfortunate that educators have to find funding for classroom programs, but we are fortunate to have the Camas Education Foundation committed to being a resource for our schools.”

The grant funding made it possible for all fourth-graders to participate.

“I really liked the necklace making,” Siena Brophy said. “It is fun because you get a chance to do activities and don’t have to sit around.”

Brielle Bradshaw she most enjoyed the botany station.

“I liked that you could learn about the plants and discover new ones,” she said. “You get to see what it looks like up close and is much more fun than sitting in class.”

Madeline Wood enjoyed the hands-on zoology table.

“I liked that you could actually touch the furs,” she said. “It was cool because they were real. In class they are telling you stuff, but here you get to do activities.”