About 50 parents, students, school officials and community members gathered at Bonny Doon Elementary School on Dec. 6 for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the school’s new science classroom.
Under construction during the summer, the $185,000 project was completed in August and since then has provided the school’s 131 kindergarten through sixth-grade students with a modern room dedicated to science classes and Life Lab studies.
Principal Stephanie Siddens said there were plans to build a dedicated science classroom even before she joined the school in 2007, but it took some time to get the funding together to do it.
Most of the money to redesign and remodel the classroom, she said, came from developer fees collected for the school through the issue of county building and development permits within the school district.
“It was a classroom that needed a lot of work,” she said.
Designed by Bonny Doon architect Frauke Zajac, whose son was a Bonny Doon Elementary student in the 1990s, the classroom is a combination kitchen and science lab.
It has skylights, laboratory tables and a cooking stove, a refrigerator, a microwave and a dishwasher that can be used to prepare vegetables harvested from the school’s Life Lab.
“Some of the classes do cooking with the kids,” Siddens said. “They’re cooking food that they’ve grown in the garden.”
The science tables are situated in front of an interactive Smart Board projector, which Siddens said works “like a giant iPad.”
While developer fees paid for the classroom itself, she said the furnishings and staff came from the community.
“We used (contributed and grant money) to make the lab functional,” Siddens said.
A $10,000 grant from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education paid for a class set of 28 iPads, and Lockheed Martin awarded the school a grant of $2,000 to help equip the lab, she said.
A gift of $17,000 from The Bonny Doon Community School Foundation helped pay the salary of a dedicated science teacher, Kate Sommer.
The school also received nearly $30,000 from Fall Fund Drives during the past three years to buy furniture, teaching tools and other supplies, Siddens said.
In her role, Sommer teaches Life Lab to children in kindergarten through third grade, as well as fourth-grade science classes. Fifth- and sixth-grade instructors lead their own science classes, as all teachers did until this school year, Siddens said.
In keeping with the increased emphasis on science created by the new classroom, the school is inviting a series of scientists to speak about the work they do.
“Once a month, we have different scientists presenting an hour-long presentation of their field,” she said.
So far, Siddens said, the school has welcomed an astrobiologist and a rocket scientist and is preparing for a January presentation by a scientist working on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s deep-sea rovers in Moss Landing.
For information: www.bonnydoon.santacruz.k12.ca.us.
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