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Educators honored for exceptional inquiry based teaching projects

Resource Area For teaching (RAFT) recently honored two Bay Area educators with the Hands On Recognition Awards for their emphasis on hands on teaching methods. Ann Shioji, a high school teacher and Anna Pollack, an elementary school teacher were selected in recognition of their exceptional collaborative and inquiry-based teaching projects and activities in the classroom.

Shioji’s award winning concept explores how sound travels through different media using a simple watch and various materials like air, water and sand. Says Shioji, “Students place a watch on the table and put bags, each filled with a different material, on top of it. They then listen for any difference in the sound and describe what they hear. It reinforces the concept that sound waves need a medium to travel through.”

Shioji, who teaches Integrated Science at the Yerba Buena High School, was introduced to RAFT by another teacher when she came to the Bay Area. “I taught in Los Angeles for three years. We didn’t have anything like RAFT there. Now people say my classroom is like RAFT because I buy a lot of manipulatives there! Thanks to RAFT our school has won a science fair award twice since we have participated. RAFT is affordable and makes science accessible to everyone!”

Anna Pollack, also a RAFT enthusiast, was a practicing pediatrician before choosing to become an elementary school teacher. Her students adore the science background she brings to the classroom. They get to work with microscopes, do real lab work, and test products all in 4th grade! “Children like learning about how living things work. I like working with young kids because of their curiosity and open mind!”

Pollack’s award winning idea nurtured the investigative and scientific observation skills in her students. In this activity, her students at Franklin Elementary School in Burlingame, learnt basic chemistry by differentiating four powders (sugar, salt, cornstarch, and baking soda) using simple RAFT materials like test tubes, droppers, toothpicks and, liquids like water, vinegar and tincture of iodine to arrive at qualitative results.

As Hands-On Recognition Award winners, Ann Shioji and Anna Pollack will receive two years of free RAFT membership and $100 worth of RAFT Gift Cards. The RAFT Hands On Recognition awards were introduced in 2010. RAFT members are invited every quarter to submit a learning project or activity. For more information about the Hands-On award program, go to http://www.raft.net/hands-on-award.

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