It’s just a regular Tuesday in the halls of Legacy Christian Academy, but in the Lower School Science Lab, it sounds as if the children are . . . making popcorn? And that means one thing: Lori Walsh is teaching fourth-graders Newton’s third law of motion — “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Each student places an effervescent tab on top of a spring inside of a film cannister, pours water inside, replaces the lid, and waits for the reaction. What follows is a symphony of pops as the kids marvel at the pieces flying apart from the carbon dioxide buildup inside the cannisters.
Few schools have a science lab just for their primary school, but Legacy wanted to provide its youngest students with an experiential science experience. “Before we opened the K–4 Science Lab,” said Cheryl Guthmann, eighth-grade science teacher, “classroom teachers were challenged with space and time constraints to implement enough hands-on laboratory experiences that would reinforce the content taught in class. We all saw a need for students to arrive in Middle School with an increased readiness to retain and apply what they had learned in elementary science. We wanted to foster a continued love for science as more than words and pictures on a page.”
So it was that in 2016, with the newly dedicated Lower School Science Lab, LCA conducted a search for a full-time K–4 science teacher. Lori Walsh had been a second-grade teacher at Legacy for 12 years, and says she was thrilled when administrators tapped her to move to the science lab to implement the vision. “For me this was a dream job,” she says four years later. “I not only get to teach my favorite subject, but I also have ample space and resources to make it come alive for my students.”
Tiffany McCollum, Lower School Principal, has high praise for the program: “Mrs. Walsh plans experiments that connect to what students are learning in the classroom. Her goal is for children to learn that science is based on God’s creation as she covers physical science, earth science, life science, human anatomy, plants, weather, energy, space, and physics. The lab provides students with hands-on enrichment opportunities to explore God’s world around them.”
Students participate in weekly labs that support the curriculum being taught in the classroom. Once again demonstrating LCA’s commitment to excellence in education, last summer the Lower School Science Lab was relocated downstairs and the space was updated. Among the renovations, the new lab has deeper sinks with hot water and increased counter space with more storage for lab materials and equipment. The new space is great for a wide variety of experiments and activities.
Mrs. Walsh stays on top of current trends and methods of teaching in the field of science by attending conferences designed for Christian educators. She enjoys trying new activities with the children and seeing the “Aha!” moments, and is passionate about what she does. She calls the lab her “happy place,” and a smile comes over her face: “I still love it,” she says.
Many memorable experiments have taken place in the science lab, such as seeing what happens when you mix Mentos with a diet cola, making elephant toothpaste, studying sublimation with dry ice, observing motion activities with Hot Wheels, discovering non-Newtonian fluids, and dissecting worms. (Mrs. Walsh isn’t afraid to get messy or “gross,” as some might say.)
Her primary goals are to help students explore God’s creation and to see that God made everything with design. She wants her students to learn and understand how God put our universe together and the ways in which He holds everything in place. She hopes the children will develop a love for science and become comfortable with the ideas, vocabulary, and equipment that come with the territory. In her lab,
Mrs. Guthmann describes what she refers to as the “Lori Walsh effect.” Because of their work in the Lower School Science Lab, students arrive in Middle School better prepared to think critically, to analyze, to think of science as fun, and to picture themselves in a science career. “Mrs. Walsh makes science come alive in a way that enables young students to learn complex concepts in a very organic way,” Mrs. Guthmann says. “She spends countless hours preparing to juggle the schedule of five grade levels in a time period that fluctuates throughout the day. God answered our prayers in the knowledge, passion, and talents of Lori Walsh.”
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.