On April 8, 2011, Saint Michael School in Orland Park hosted its third annual PRISM (Practical Research Investigating the Scientific Method) Primary Science Expo. The event was organized by the science teachers of the first, second and third grades, Mrs. Bartlett, Ms. DeMatteo and Mrs. Johnson. PRISM is a child-centered, noncompetitive science exposition where students work outside of school to investigate a scientific topic and display the results of their study.
The students were given the opportunity to present one of four types of projects: a collection, an invention, an investigation, or a portfolio. Third grade students were required to participate in the expo as part of their science curriculum; however, participation was optional for grades one and two. Nonetheless, nearly 30 1st and 2nd graders proudly presented their projects at the science fair. The teachers were delighted to see 84 projects lining the tables of the expo.
Both parents and St. Michael School students were invited to view the projects throughout the day. Those who came were treated to a wide variety of fascinating topics that ranged from studies of the brain and the chemistry of cupcakes to inventions of cup speakers and methods of launching rockets. Some projects helped to showcase students' personal collections of rocks and insects, and other students investigated the bacteria on fast food chain tables.
While it is understood that these young students will need some direction throughout the process, parents are encouraged to assist their children in a way that lets the child do as much of the work as possible. "These students never disappoint." commented third grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, "I'm always amazed at how much they delve into their subjects. They learn so much from these projects!"
"The whole process, of putting together a project of this magnitude, is educational," said Greg McClain, 3rd grade parent and Homer Glen resident. "We love to see our son learning to apply classroom knowledge to real world topics."