By combining water, oil, and food coloring in a plastic bottle, middle school students at the Poudre Global Academy learned about the properties of water and densities of different substances while making groovy lava lamps.
“It’s the most fun way to do it,” said Hannah McGrath, PGA science teacher. “They can take their lava lamp home and show it to their family.”
PGA, Poudre School District’s online K-12 school, offers students online courses along with campus enrichment. While the online students usually study their core subjects at home, they have the option to attend the PGA school, located at 703 E. Prospect, a couple of days a week to participate in school and district activities and interactive classroom learning with other students, like making lava lamps in a science class.
McGrath said creating the lava lamps showed students what substances are attracted to water and what substances are repelled by water. Students also learned about the densities of different substances, learning what floats or sinks in water.
Rigel Barthell, a sixth-grader who recently enrolled at PGA, plans to keep his reddish, orange lava lamp on his windowsill at home.
“I learned about the tendencies of water and oil and if you try to mix them together, they will completely separate. I thought this activity was fun and we were learning at the same time,” he said.
McGrath says she tries to incorporate hands-on learning projects, like making lava lamps, into the curriculum as much as possible.
“I find that they learn more if they do the investigation themselves rather than me just telling them about it. It balances out what they are doing online,” she said.
Eighth-grader Sierra Paulsen says it’s simply more fun doing an activity rather than listening to a lecture.
“It would still be interesting if Ms. McGrath told us about it, but it’s more fun doing it ourselves,” she said.
As an online student, Sierra said she enjoys attending classes a couple of days a week with other online students. “I do my core subjects at home and when I come here, I can be with other people and do group work and projects. It’s nice to get a balance of both. I really like that,” she said.
For more information about PGA, visit the PGA website.