Adventures in First Grade!

Megan Carter and Jaime Zwerling
In October, the first grade took a field trip to the Discovery Cube, a science museum for kids, located in Santa Ana. You may have seen it while driving down the 405 freeway; it’s hard to miss! So what exactly is INSIDE that huge cube? 

First graders had a blast exploring the museum and participating in a wide variety of science and STEM-related activities. Here are a few of the first grader favorites:
  • On the first floor, you’ll find a physics lab, where students are encouraged to build cars using multiple wooden pieces, some with wheels, and then discover how to launch it on the giant track that towers above them. The kids competed to see whose car would go the farthest on the track and explored how different levels of force affected how far the car would go.
  • On the bottom floor, outside the museum building, we explored Dino Quest, with life-size dinosaur bones that you can climb on and around. There are climbing structures, a rope bridge, and slides. 
  • The hurricane simulator was another kid favorite. Kids piled into the simulator, a round, tall tube. When the door shuts, winds of up to 35mph begin. Hair-flying, clothes-flapping fun!
  • Next, we explored the season-specific Halloween hall. The museum always has fun special activities for different ages and seasons. This year, the Halloween hall had two activities that the kids enjoyed participating in. The first was pumpkin launchers; wooden launchers were set up with a target and small pumpkins. The kids had to discover how much force to use on the launcher to get the pumpkin at the target. The second challenge was creating boats out of a small piece of foil and figuring out how to make them float in a pool of water. Their goal was to see how many gooey “eyeballs” they could fit on their boat without it sinking.
  • Kids love nothing more than going shopping! At Discovery market on the second floor, kids can get a life-size shopping cart and are prompted by the screen on the cart to walk around the store and scan items to “add” to their cart. The prompts ask students to find particular items with a purpose such as “what item in the meat section has the most carbohydrates?”
    If you’ve never been to the Discovery Cube, we highly recommend it. There are activities for every age, including younger siblings!

About the Authors
Mrs. Carter has been teaching at Harbor Day School since 2015. She grew up in Newport Beach and attended Newport Coast Elementary and Corona del Mar High School. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies (Elementary Education) with a concentration in special education. During her undergraduate studies, she received her Elementary Education Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Continuing at LMU, Mrs. Carter received her master’s degree in guidance and counseling. 

Mrs. Zwerling has been at Harbor Day School since 2016. She attended the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and received a degree in cognitive science with a minor in education. She fell in love with teaching while doing undergraduate fieldwork at the UCI Farm School. She returned to UCI to earn her Professional Clear Teaching Credential. Before joining Harbor Day, she taught first grade and kindergarten at Country Day School in the Palos Verdes area. Prior to that, Mrs. Zwerling worked for Newport-Mesa in kindergarten, K-3 science, and reading intervention. As a member of the National Science Teachers Association and the International Society for Technology Education, Mrs. Zwerling has attended conferences to continue her professional development and learn ways to enhance the students' classroom experience.

Harbor Day School

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Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.