Education research personnel treated Bryan ISD families and students to hands-on earth science demonstrations at Johnson Elementary’s annual Family Night in April.

Project Virtually-Infused Collaborations for Teaching and Learning Opportunities for Rural Youth (VICTORY) postdoctoral research associates, Dr. Raquel Granados-Aguilar and Dr. Abbey Bachmann, conducted educational outreach on behalf of the project. Project VICTORY is a Texas A&M University STEM education grant that centers on literacy-infused science.

Dr. Granados-Aguilar and Dr. Bachmann set up a science display for Johnson families to learn more about family engagement in science learning, which is an important component in the project. The display consisted of handouts on the importance of family involvement in literacy-infused science practices, interactive virtual reality (VR) experiences on project tablets to simulate the experience of entering into and exploring inside of a real-life volcano.

Post-docs Raquel Granados-Aguilar and Abbey Bachmann

Post-doctoral research associates Raquel Granados-Aguilar and Abbey Bachmann at the Project VICTORY table.

However, the biggest highlight of Project VICTORY’s display was the opportunity for students to complete their own volcanic eruption simulation. Model volcanoes, made out of water bottles and modeling clay, were set up so students could experience the excitement of conducting a science experiment. Students who wanted to participate were given a small bottle of vinegar to pour into the volcano (which contained baking soda) to simulate a volcanic eruption.

“Students LOVED the eruption simulations. The line of students at the table never seemed to end. The excitement on their faces as they completed the hands-on experiment was priceless,” said Dr. Bachmann.

“Many parents made notes and took pictures of the required materials so they could recreate the volcano models at home,” added Dr. Granados-Aguilar.

“Many students made the connection between the lava from the simulation and the rocks from the real volcano. Hopefully this experience will encourage them to get excited about learning science.”

A three-year project, VICTORY is spearheaded by Drs. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Beverly J. Irby, and Fuhui Tong as principal investigators and Dr. Cindy Guerrero as the lead coordinator. The project wrapped up its first year of implementation in Texas rural schools this May.