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Edison Classroom Transforms into a Science Lab

Edison students collaborate on a science experiment during summer school in 2022

Two incoming fifth-graders watched as a scoop of sugar in a small container reacted to heat from their homemade burner, fashioned from a candle, pie tin and sand.

"What's it doing? Is it dissolving?" one of the students asked.

"It's melting," the other replied.

They recorded their findings in their journal and moved on to salt.

The students – part of Julie Selland's summer school class at Edison Elementary – were testing common household substances under heat as part of their science unit on the properties of matter. Along with sugar and salt, they tested cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and alum.

As students in the class tried out each substance, they made enthusiastic observations.

"It looks like mold!"

"It smells like s'mores!"

"It smells like a burger!"

More than 3,000 students are participating in summer school this year in the Kennewick School District. For students in preschool through eighth grade, the focus is on engaging, hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) learning – like Selland's heat lab at Edison.

For high schoolers, the focus is credit recovery, extra help with math and enrichment activities.

In Selland's class, students found that sugar and alum reacted the most when heated – melting and/or bubbling. 

Further experimentation is planned, and by the end of summer school, students will be able to identify some mystery substances based on how they react in certain conditions.

Selland said she hopes her students enjoy summer school and think of science as a fun and interesting subject.

That seems to be happening.

As her fifth-graders put away their heat lab supplies the other day, they chatted excitedly about what they'd just done.

"I liked this experiment. It was awesome," one boy said. "No. 6 (the alum) bubbled. No. 6 was awesome!"

An Edison student smiles during class


Edison students take part in a science experiment


A homemade Bunsen burner


Edison student holding a substance over a Bunsen burner


Edison students smile during a science experiment