Hands-on Science Program Energizes Students at Barnard Elementary

Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School has partnered with San Diego Youth Science for the second year in a row to give students and teachers the opportunity to create authentic and relevant scientific learning experiences together. Geared toward the fourth and fifth grades, students benefit from an expanded science program that has been integrated into their class curriculum.

In mid-April, the students explored food webs and energy flow in biological systems. They learned that energy flows from the sun, into plants, and ultimately into animals. In order to understand how energy flows to fish, the students inspected a typical marine life diet by dissecting mackerel fish and spiny dogfish sharks. They focused on the fish’s stomach and explored what was inside.

“I was surprised to open the mackerel’s stomach and find other fish inside,” said fourth grade student Texas Z. “Fish are opportunistic creatures and they will eat whatever it takes to survive. It was kind of gross, but also cool and interesting.”

The students also investigated the physical adaptations on their fish, such as the structure of the fins, mouths, and bodies, to consider the impact on species survival. This curriculum extends beyond dissection tables and the walls of the classroom. This spring, the fifth graders took a field trip to the Marine Science Floating Lab, and fourth graders will visit the Cabrillo tidepools. These field trips help students see the science they learn in the classroom in real-world settings, creating a more holistic approach to teaching the subject matter. For these students and their teachers, science is not about answers; it is about a process of discovery.

For more information on Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School or to find out about the District’s School Choice program, visit sandiegounified.org/barnard. For more information on San Diego Youth Science, visit www.sites.google.com/view/sandiegoyouthscience.