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Project puts theory into practice

When Rifle High School freshman Greg King walked into his integrated science class last week, he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.For weeks, he and his class studied the dynamics of hurricane prediction and volcanic eruptions. After learning the theory and understanding how to perform the calculations, King and his class had to put theory into practice.As part of a collaboration with the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado Springs and the Daniels Fund, students in Rifle’s integrated science I and II classes participated in “e-missions,” or electronic missions, as their culminating project for the lesson. Classes had to summon their math, science and team-building skills, as well as their wits, to complete an e-mission based upon real-life events on the island of Montserrat. With the help of computers, the Internet and satellite imaging, students broke into teams and interacted with “mission control” based at CLCCS to track a hurricane, predict volcanic rockfall and determine how these conditions would impact the island’s air, land, water and vegetation. The e-mission allows students to participate as earth systems science experts using distance-learning technologies.Through a small digital box, projected on a computer screen at the front of the classroom, commanders from “mission control” barked orders, requested information from the teams and reviewed the answers to ensure that the students understood both the calculations and the concepts. Data streamed in real time to students’ computers at regular intervals, and then the fireworks began.With data in hand and maps at the ready, the previously sterile calculations that students performed at their desks earlier in the unit now had a sense or urgency and importance. Despite the fact that Operation Montserrat was a simulation, students felt that their ability to generate information and their actions had a significant impact on what happened on the island.”This was kind of cool,” King, a member of the volcano team, said after the e-mission was complete. “It’s kind of like a real-life situation.”The impact wasn’t lost on Branton Brown.”I never realized how long a process (scientists) had to go through to determine how and when a volcano was going to erupt or to track the path of a hurricane,” Brown said.Both students said they would like to do more e-missions – It’s much better than sitting and listening to a teacher read from a book, they agreed.Integrated science takes a real-world approach and shows how all the sciences come together in solving problems, said Anthony Rossilli, a Rifle High School integrated science instructor. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to take his students on an e-mission. “This is a new curriculum, and we were trying to develop ways to prepare our students, but make the information relevant. All you have to do is look at the news and see information about Mount St. Helens and the hurricanes in Florida to know that this material is relevant,” Rossilli said.Riverside student joinsleadership conferenceCongratulations to Riverside student Ryan Lake. He has been accepted into the People to People World Leadership forum and will join a select group of students in Washington, D.C., March 28 through April 3 to earn high school credit while studying leadership and exploring some of the United States’ most prominent monuments.Lake was nominated and accepted based on outstanding scholastic merit, civic involvement and leadership potential.Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Garfield School District Re-2. She can be reached at 625-7621.


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