Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School - Chandler, AZ
In this exciting mentoring program, SAGANet.org mentors are paired with families from the Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School “Discovery Room” in Chandler, AZ in scientist/parent/child partnerships.
The “Discovery Room” (literally a room in the school), though established in a formal learning environment, is an informal learning program dedicated to science and discovery, in which students can freely investigate a variety of science and engineering concepts (http://web.kyrene.org/pto/cielo/discovery_room.htm) in their free time (i.e., during lunch recess breaks). Thus the Discovery Room provides an informal learning environment within the formally structured learning environment of Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School.
The intent of the Discovery Room is to complement classroom instruction by providing an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a science and engineering-rich environment outside of the regular curriculum, with the ultimate goal being to stimulate a sustained interest in these disciplines.
The program operates by assigning each grade (K-5) two exclusive recess slots per week during which an equal number of children from each class in that grade are given the opportunity to spend recess in the Discovery Room as an alternative to traditional recess.
A staff of parent volunteers is present to assist, mediate, explain and engage the children in self-directed exploration and/or organized small-group experiments, demonstrations or activities. During the fall semester, small-group activities are organized and run by Kyrene student teachers from Arizona State University’s I-TEACH program in the Mary Lou Fulton Graduate School of Education.
In the spring of 2013, as a direct result of the Discovery Room’s collaboration with SAGANet.org, Cielo Elementary School held a Science Fair, where the children who interacted with SAGANet.org mentors presented a project related to science and/or engineering as part of the Kyrene del Cielo Celebrate Learning Night held at the end of the spring term.
Each mentor/mentee team met virtually for thirty minutes to one-hour, once per week, utilizing tools on the SAGANet.org platform for the eight-weeks leading up to the Science Fair. The role of mentors in the SAGANet.org mentoring program was to provide
in developing the child’s science fair project at home. In this capacity, the function of the mentor was not only to mentor the student, but also the entire family, particularly those adults who were helping the student to complete their project (i.e., typically a mother or father).
The goal of focusing on family mentoring is to cultivate a science-friendly environment in the home, and to spark an interest in science not only in the student but also in other members of the household.