A group of school children watch a volcano simulation.

A project from Texas A&M University gave third-grade students in the rural town of Archer City the chance to experience science firsthand.

Project Virtually-Infused Collaborations for Teaching and Learning Opportunities for Rural Youth, also known as Project VICTORY, is a research grant led by researchers and professors in Texas A&M’s School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) to enhance science education for grades 3-5. Project VICTORY incorporates in-person and virtual instruction to compare the effectiveness of the two teaching methods. Archer City Elementary is participating in virtual instruction.

“Mondays were the students’ absolute favorite because it had the experiments, and it got them engaged,” said third-grade teacher Jamie Krenek, who participated in the project this past spring. She also noted how much her students enjoyed meeting real-life scientists, who were undergraduate and graduate science students from Texas A&M. “They loved asking random questions to the scientists,” Krenek said.

Parents have also noticed their children applying the information they learned. “We were talking one day, and I heard my daughter and my husband using the words and lingo from one of the activities,” said Archer City parent Amber Sherrill.

Project VICTORY provides take-home science activities for students to do with their parents or family. Since parents are involved in the implementation of VICTORY, they are more involved in their children’s education. “I thought it was really good bonding time because I work all the time, so getting to spend time with my son on the projects was really fun, and it was really easy to follow,” said parent Lacie Trapp. “My nine-year-old is a little sponge and loves to tell you about everything, and the project gave him more fuel for his fire, and it helped him expand.”

Sherrill observed that the science experiments brought their whole family together: “Everyone got involved, down to the younger siblings being excited to watch the experiment.”

Starting this fall, Project VICTORY will work online with fourth-grade Archer City students. The project team will recruit student and family participants in September. For more information about VICTORY, please visit https://crdlla.tamu.edu/victory/.