A young girl poses with the ingredients for a volcano simulation.

A project led by researchers and professors at Texas A&M University’s School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) helped third-grade students in Jim Hogg County ISD deepen their knowledge of science.

Project Virtually Infused Collaborations for Teaching and Learning Opportunities for Rural Youth (VICTORY) works with teachers and third- through fifth-grade students in 60 rural schools across Texas. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the three-year project provides a variety of learning opportunities for students to deepen their science knowledge, develop academic language and literacy, and cultivate an interest in scientific fields. “They have way more opportunities to do a lot more things. I mean, this program really, really, helped them,” said Alfredo Alaniz, a third-grade teacher at Hebbronville Elementary.

One of the main goals of Project VICTORY is to reduce educational disparities in science between rural and non-rural schools. The project incorporates in-person and virtual instruction to compare the effectiveness of the two teaching methods. Jim Hogg County ISD was part of the online instruction group during the 2021-22 academic year.

Project VICTORY implementation includes a nine-week, literacy-infused science enrichment with lesson plans and curriculum materials, student access to tablets, hands-on science activities, and Texas A&M scientist mentors.

This spring, third-grade students learned about the scientific method and worked with family at home to make a volcano using provided or commonly available household items, such as vinegar and baking soda. They experienced virtual reality simulations of the inside of a volcano and the characteristics of rapid changes on Earth up close.

Starting this fall, Project VICTORY will work with fourth-grade Hebbronville Elementary students online. The project team will recruit student and family participants in September.

For more information about VICTORY, please visit https://crdlla.tamu.edu/victory/.