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Dougherty Elementary School Hosts Day of Innovation to Inspire New Scientists

May 21, 2014

Dougherty Elementary School Day of Innovation 5OneDublin.org received an invitation to observe a new program at Dougherty Elementary School. Last Thursday, the site hosted a comprehensive program that may stimulate younger students to further expand their exploration of STEM-related studies and careers. Specifically, these are endeavors based in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. There were two elements to this day: During school hours, Scientists in various fields made classroom visits and gave concise presentations. The evening event offered families an opportunity to view student projects, to hear presentations on scientific concepts and to interact with local science-based organizations.

We took full advantage of both opportunities. In the morning, we followed local Orthodontist Dante Gonzales, DMD, MSD. His presentation focused on the advancements made in orthodontia in the past several decades based upon employing the use of alloys versus steel. He explained to the students how alloys have provided a more “natural” way of moving brackets (and teeth) into proper positions. The students were able to manipulate the alloy wires and the hands-on portion was followed with a question and answer segment after the demonstration.

In the evening, we returned to a packed multi-purpose room. Initially, there was an open house of grade level projects. Later, there was a presentation of Trimester Challenges that the students had been working on. The evening continued with a laser show and then a keynote address by Levi Fuller, Treatment Plant Operations Manager for the Dublin San Ramon Unified Services District.

OneDublin.org reached out to Dougherty Principal Brett Nelson to gain his insights into this newly hatched program.

OneDublin.org: As an administrator that previously worked at a high performing site in Fremont, we were curious to know if the Day of Innovation was a replication of a program that you previously ran.

Brett Nelson: “This program is not a replication as I do not have a full time science teacher; rather it is creating inquiry and learning opportunities that can occur in the classroom.”

OneDublin.org: Was there a lead teacher or staff group that hatched this concept? 

Nelson: “The ideas for the move to the hands on lab and the Day of Innovation came largely in part to my attendance in the California Science Conference and from International Society for Technology in Education. In both of the conferences, I learned how important it was to embed science into our Common Core Standards. I was very much supported in my endeavors by Ms. Candaux my TSA, Ms. Addiego and Ms. Pickup who are my science liaisons.”

OneDublin.org: What was the genesis for putting this event together?

Nelson: “The purpose of this event is to partner with the local organizations to help educate the student and parent community about the many career paths that have science embedded in them. Specifically, with the many issues effecting our economy and environment the need for innovative scientists is growing. This also ties into the shift from the previous California State Science Standards to the Next Generation Science Standards, as they are focus on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math).

“At Dougherty, we have been focusing on embedding hands-on science labs in all grades, for the students, and also Trimester Challenges for the 4th and 5th graders that are geared heavily towards engineering. The labs were funded primarily by two parents who recognized and supported the idea for the shift in practice. I also took all the students who were enrolled in the Science Challenge to Google to be inspired and see that they have many options ahead of them for career opportunities. I want to thank Patty Turner, one of our parents, who made this trip possible.”

Principal Nelson wanted to be certain that his Science Coordinators at Dougherty were recognized: Kristen Candaux, Amelia Pickup and Darlene Addiego. And, by including the entire Dougherty community, the Day of Innovation has the potential to become a highly constructive annual event. OneDublin.org would like to acknowledge all of the local vendors, site staff and Dougherty families for supporting this successful event. Some members of the next generation of scientists may be currently learning in a classroom on Hibernia Drive.

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