Getting elementary school children excited about math and science can be a challenge, but add a volunteer into the equation – now there’s a formula to capture student interest. Dana Stone, Army retired, started volunteering in her son Connor’s third grade classroom in 2010. Within a few years, Stone found herself tutoring reading and math, teaching science demonstrations and supporting other school functions such as the Parent Teacher Organization, or PTO.
“My biggest goal is to get the kids excited by science and math,” Stone said.
This year Stone volunteered in a variety of classrooms, including Lorraine Draeger’s third grade classroom at General Myer Elementary School. Draeger explained that Stone makes science fun for her students. She also volunteered in Chelsea Bovara’s fourth grade class.
“Dana Stone has an amazing talent for engaging children in learning,” Bovara said. “We were lucky to have her at General Myer Elementary School.”
One lesson involved dry ice, where student learned the states of matter, sublimation, cooled liquids, force, pressure and carbonation. The lab activities involved small explosions, bubbles and homemade carbonated Kool-Aid(r). Another experiment this year involved students combining diet Coke(r) and Mentos(r) mints to learn the effects of carbonic acid and pressure.
“The idea isn’t to teach a full class plan that will cover one subject extensively, but to highlight the things that they will be learning in the next few years. Then when their teacher covers air pressure, they have a vivid experience tied to the learning process,” Stone said.
Besides the fun and excitement these activities bring to students, Stone believes there is something more important that volunteering does for the classroom.
“When students see that other adults take their education seriously, they start to realize that school is more than just third grade,” she said. “They see that people use those math and science skills in daily life.”