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OMSI rocks MITCH Charter School's world

Sixth-graders learn about geology, earthquakes; fifth-graders get chemistry lesson

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Hassan Hashmat, left, Luke Young and Jo Carbajal react after failing to build a structure that can withstand an earthquake during an OMSI presentation at MITCH Charter School.Sixth-grade students in Karin Bury-Roller's class at MITCH Charter School in Tualatin got some deep knowledge and insights on the morning of Oct. 29 — 3,959 miles deep, to be exact.

Erik Anderson, an outreach educator from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, came to Tualatin to teach Bury-Roller's students about geology, the layers of the Earth (all the way down to the inner core, thousands of miles below the crust), plate tectonics and earthquakes. As part of the workshop, students participated in activities to demonstrate the mechanics of how earthquakes work.

After an all-class activity about geologic time and a PowerPoint presentation, the students were divided up by table group and rotated between stations with different activities. At one station, students tried to match different objects to the layers of the Earth based on their texture. At another station, they cut out paper representations of tectonic plates and saw what happened when they moved against each other. At another station, the most popular in the room, students built model structures out of corks, straws and balls filled with water and got to see how they measured up to simulated earthquakes.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Erik Anderson, an outreach educator from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, illustrates how plates of the earth move during an OMSI presentation at MITCH Charter School.MITCH is an acronym for “Multi-sensory Teaching Children Hands-on,” and Anderson's classroom visit honored that educational philosophy.

“It's the hands-on activities that, I think, personalize it for the kids,” Anderson said. “When they've got their hands on, they're creating, they're doing something, and that kind of helps emphasize what we've talked about in the slideshow and the discussion.”

“They can tie it to their own world … so just really bringing the real world to them,” Bury-Roller said.

Her students spent the week learning about earthquakes in preparation for the OMSI outreach lesson. Bury-Roller said they will be getting another visit in February, when OMSI will bring its mobile planetarium to the charter school. She is also hoping to give students the opportunity to learn about rocketry and flight dynamics as they make paper rockets (provided they can find the room to shoot them off).

Anderson also taught fifth-graders at MITCH about chemistry during his visit, with students partnering up for laboratory experiments.

MITCH works to bring in OMSI outreach educators on a regular basis, Bury-Roller said. Anderson said he had been to the school several times previously.