- McPolin Elementary School
Students enrolled in the Park City School District’s after-school programs were placed on a secret mission to identify aliens that crash-landed on earth. Their objectives were to figure out what features the unidentified creatures had, including how many eyes and appendages and what type of blood cells and skin features they possessed.
Jill Kopish, after-school STEM and Science teacher, has inspired and supported students in Park City School District for over eight years in different capacities and developed the alien autopsy activity with inspiration from a math lesson developed by Linda Hilton, a fifth-grade teacher at Jeremy Ranch Elementary.
“I like sharing my passion for science with students to show them that there is a world around them and more to discover,” said Kopish. “I like seeing the excitement in the kids and challenging them to open their eyes to different areas of science and watch them gain confidence in STEM.”
The students first dressed up in their personal protective gear, including bonnets and blue gowns. Next, the students opened up the blobs to retrieve vital information about the life form they were identifying. They took that information to Kopish, and she then gave them slides to place under a microscope to learn more about their alien.
“I love science; I fell in love with it in the fourth grade when I was the only kid in the classroom besides the teacher who could get the microscopes to focus,” said Kopish. “I could not do activities like this without the support of the Park City Education Foundation.”
PCEF funded the first PCSD After-school program at McPolin Elementary in 2007-2008, and provides over $200,000 in funding for all four PCSD elementary schools today. The Afterschool STEM program specifically has been supported by a donor-directed gift to PCEF for many years.
After the students collected all the information about their unidentified creature, they were asked to draw what it would look like based on their findings.
“When the students get to Ecker Hill Middle School, they will begin using a microscope, so my goal is to get them familiar with the equipment beforehand; that way, it won't be as intimidating,” said Kopish. “I hope this activity invoked their imagination to continue to explore different avenues of science and STEM.”