A new summer challenge in Sheboygan Falls

The early days of summer are a time when most students eagerly exit their classrooms for some much needed rest and relaxation. This summer however, 30 students from Sheboygan Falls Middle school postponed their break just a bit and accepted the challenge of a new and exciting summer school program.

These students were the first to enter the Sheboygan Falls Science Challenge Academy, open to students grades 5-8 from June 8-25 as part of the school district’s summer offerings.

The Challenge Academy was a course offered to students that was designed to be a hands-on problemsolving class with a scientific focus. The course content and objectives were developed by Sheboygan Falls High School science teachers Andrew Jagow and Brad Hoffmann. The program that they put together revolved around three different concepts involving the study of motion; race, lift, and launch.

Each week in the academy would end with a student design challenge. During the week all students participated in activities that would help them to understand the particular type of motion that would be the center of their challenge.

According to Challenge Academy student Olivia Blaha, “The class was so fun, each week we did something new, and there were exciting, hands-on activities!”

At the end of week one students had to design a racetrack that would propel a race car at maximum velocity. Throughout the week students used motion sensors and timers to study velocity.

Students then created track prototypes and carried out test runs during the week so they could solve the problem and succeed in the challenge.

During week two students created and experimented with a variety of glider designs in an attempt to understand lift so that at the end of the week they could create mylar balloons that achieved flight.

In the third and final week students studied basic rocketry and rocket design so that they could create working models for their launch challenge where flight time and elevation were measured.

According to Mary Hammarlund, a student in the class, “We did so many different activities in this class. We experimented with motion sensors, built race tracks, constructed model planes, made our own hot air balloons with laundry bags and candles, and even launched rockets, just to name a few.”

Hoffmann led the students through the three-week course which gave students time to experiment, estimate, and play with scientific concepts.

His patient and supportive style was noted by Hammarlund. “Mr. Hoffman, the teacher for the class, was a really good friend to everyone in the class. He’s very patient and helpful. If anyone needed help, nobody needed to be afraid to ask.”

Each week the challenge may have been different but the goal was the same - get students actively involved in the study of science as hands on problem solvers.

Kelly Rauch, a parent of one of one of the Challenge Academy students, had this to say about the experience: “My son enjoyed the hot air balloon experiments the most at Science Challenge Academy. I liked that he was being challenged and learning new concepts. He benefitted from problem-solving with different groups of students.”

This type of excitement was evident on the faces of the students each day and their energy was a testament to how much they enjoyed the experience.

The Science Challenge Academy was a new course this summer but will be offered again next summer with new and exciting challenges.

The Science Challenge Academy was one of over 20 summer school courses offered to K-12 students during June and July. An additional 10 courses will be offered during the month of August in order to give students a jump start on the school year.


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