Snemer Anand bounces around her classroom laboratory at Pomeroy Elementary School with as much joy and enthusiasm as her students who are deeply engaged in the variety of hands-on projects she has at each station centered around Thermal Energy.
“She’s great,” said 11-year-old sixth grader Kevin Yovan. “She does super fun projects. Today, we learned how different types of objects can make sparks and fire.”
The excitement and energy around science discovery is just as engaging at Spangler Elementary School, where Sappho Chow has her students learning hands-on about the different functions and parts of the eye. Wearing a white scientist jacket as she instructs her students using a “Mystery Science” video, Chow has their full attention. The students follow steps to create a retina and cornea that they will experiment with the natural light coming in from the window.
“It was very cool to learn about the design of the eye,” said 8-year-old fourth-grader Navya Khadloya. “She asks lots of questions to make it interesting.”
Anand and Chow, who are two of nine science specialists employed at each of MUSD’s elementary schools, cover the Next Generation Science Standards for all fourth through sixth grade students whose classes rotate into their laboratories on a weekly basis.
In her 44th year of teaching science (24th at Pomeroy), Anand holds a Bachelor of Arts in Science and a Masters in Education and English Literature. She leads eight classes in inquiry-based science exploration. On this particular Wednesday, she has sixth graders experimenting with Solar Cookers, Energy Transfer, Kinetic Energy, Heat Energy, Electricity, and more.
“All of our stations are based on energy and how they are transferred,” said Anand as she demonstrates how different metals expand and contract at varying rates. “MUSD has always had science specialists, and that’s what makes us special in the Bay Area.”
Chow, in her 8th year at Spangler and 12th overall in science education, holds a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and Masters in Education from UC Riverside. She has been teaching ever since and “it’s great exposing science to kids early on,” Chow shared.
Her classroom cabinets are stocked with microscopes, beakers, anatomy parts, and other scientific apparatus for her students. She teaches nine classes, including one Special Day Class.
“I enjoy the new projects,” said 9-year-old fourth grader Rick Berry, who shares what he learned about the eye. “Behind the pupil is the retina and that helps the light project images.”
Chow captivates her classes with student-centric, hands-on activities centered around lessons in Life Science, Earth Science, Physical Science, and Engineering. Her goal is to “build on their curiosity with exploration” and to show them “what scientists do in real life.”
MUSD’s nine science specialists meet regularly to exchange ideas and experiences in the classroom and support one another throughout the school year.
“I love my team,” Chow said. “We try to support each other in any way that we can.”
Anand is overwhelmed with the support she receives from her Pomeroy families who value science in education. She hopes the younger generation of science specialists will continue to be supported at each of MUSD’s elementary schools.
“Our community respects that we are able to dedicate funds to science,” Anand said. “It’s truly an awesome program that we have here.”