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Nampa teacher makes the abstract more concrete for her students

Endeavor Elementary fifth grade teacher Amanda Lloyd uses models, experiments and demonstrations to really help science sink in.

NAMPA, Idaho — For a lesson on forms of energy, Endeavor Elementary fifth grade teacher Amanda Lloyd built a Rube Goldberg Machine. 

She used a hairdryer to blow a ball down a cardboard ramp where it knocked books over into a stick that then rang a cymbal. She explained to the students that she started with electrical energy, then wind, motion and sound. Then she had them build their own machines.

"Their whole goal was to, in some way, get the energy from one place to another," Lloyd said.

She uses models, experiments and demonstrations to really help science sink in.

"Sometimes science can be super abstract," Lloyd said. "So creating a model or bringing in something that allows students to actually see that abstract thing in the real world."

Her students put that lesson to work, crafting models out of bananas, crackers, jelly and licorice for a lesson on plants, animals and ecosystems.

"We decided to make a model of coral to try to figure out if it was a plant or an animal," Lloyd said.

One experiment focused on creating a device that would clean water.

"We're not actually at a river, but we had a bucket in front of us and it was filled with leaves and dirt and plastic and we were trying to figure out how do we get it clean and back to looking like good water," Lloyd said.

Another demonstration was on the movement of the Earth. To simulate the sun, Lloyd pointed a flashlight at a student's back, then asked the kids where is the shadow going to be. The answer was the shadow would be in front of the girl.

"I think something I value as a teacher is how can I create an experience that they're going to remember years from now," Lloyd said.

Lloyd taught fourth-grade last year. She and all the fourth-grade teachers at Endeavor stayed with their classes for fifth grade. She says it provided consistency and a solid foundation for the students through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org

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