Northside Hospital - Northside Hospital Helps Big Creek Elementary Plug Into Science

Northside Hospital Helps Big Creek Elementary Plug Into Science

Posted on: March 22, 2012


Students at Big Creek Elementary School in Cumming have been enjoying their new Science Lab, a dream made possible through financial gifts from Northside Hospital and the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The Lab opened just recently and an open house was held on March 8 to celebrate all who helped make the project a reality.

“For students, in addition to learning about science through experimentation during class time, the Science Lab is a place they can stop by anytime to observe the live organisms and look at specimens,” said Chris Hawlk, fifth grade teacher at Big Creek Elementary. “Students can now observe and form new questions outside of formal class time, thus expanding their experience of Science.”

The eight-month project to build the Science Lab began last summer, with a vision from Principal Sherri Black. Black identified an under-utilized classroom and asked key staff members and the PTA to champion the funding and coordination of a stand-alone Science Lab for the school. The PTA embraced the idea, soliciting voluntary financial donations from more than 40 families, as well as contributions of other needed materials.

The result is an interactive Science Lab, complete with six compound microscopes, four hand-held digital scales, a 49-specimen jar set, an African Sideneck Turtle and more, to motivate students and offer them a hands-on learning experience.

“The Science Lab allows us to centralize our science resources,” added Hawlk. “While each grade level will take a lead role in determining how to utilize the Science Lab to enhance their specific curricula, teachers now have access to the science resources of all grade levels.”

PTA co-president Paula Strickland took the lead role to help get the Science Lab open. She, along with other parent volunteers, gathered donations of equipment suitable for the Lab, sorted and labeled items, and established and organized an adjoining room for storage space.

“As parents, we’re happy that Big Creek can offer another new element for the students to explore and get their hands on, in elementary school as opposed to waiting for middle school,” said Kathy Portanka, Big Creek PTA member and mom of a first grader at the school. “By getting kids interested in science at an early age it opens their world.”

Northside Hospital has been a Partner In Education (PIE) with Big Creek Elementary since 2009. In addition to the Science Lab, the hospital also has sponsored supplies for the school’s clinic. In all, Northside’s PIE program sponsors more than 100 schools across Forsyth, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

“We are proud to be a part of another learning initiative by one of our Partner in Education schools,” said Mary Guerrant, director of fundraising, Northside Hospital, and Northside’s PIE liaison with Big Creek Elementary. “Our commitment to schools represents Northside’s mission and values and our continued efforts to support women, families, education and health & safety.”

Big Creek hopes to continue to add to the Science Lab’s inventory as additional funding becomes available.

Read more about Northside Hospital's Partners In Education Program.

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