STEM Teacher Receives Partial Grant

Cindy Raynor, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher at River Dell Elementary, has received a $700 grant through the Johnston County Education Foundation.

The grant will help fund her project CSI: Curious Student Investigators in STEM.

Cindy Raynor received her grant while teaching Mrs. Kristen Veilleux’s fourth grade class. The students were thrilled for Raynor.

“Crime scene investigation is a vast field for scientific exploration that holds great potential for the classroom,” Raynor said. “A simulated crime scene with STEMtastic lab experiments will promise to be a wonderful tool to inspire students toward Problem-Based Inquiry Learning. While integrating classroom experiences with real world problems, students will practice the skills needed in analyzing evidence to solve a crime and make chemistry predictions. Excitement will fill the air as students classify, use numbers, measure, interpret data, and make inferences just like real scientists. Our K-5 CSI will use teamwork as they make detailed observations, record data, and think critically.”

Students will work at hands-on activity stations and use critical thinking skills to identify the “true” criminal and solve crimes such as cookie theft and dog-napping. Students will then compare the evidence as they gain a new understanding of examining clues and not relying on false assumptions, just like professional scientists.

Using a minds-on/hands-on approach, students will become active researchers as they sift through evidence and draw their conclusions. They will also learn about the use of technology in forensic science and understand the importance of accurate measurements and calculations. Older junior scientists will present their findings to their class through a media presentation of their choice.

“To begin our unit of CSI STEM, we will explore the history of forensic science through books, videos, and websites. I will also invite police officers, state troopers, and a FBI officer to share about their jobs. They can show fingerprinting techniques, look at items with a black light, and compare collected evidence just to name a few. As a whole lesson we can look at the simulation kits, ‘The Case of The Kidnapped Cookies,’ ‘Scientific Explorer Crime Catchers Spy Science Kit,’ and ‘The Crazy Science Lab,’” Raynor said. “These crime scene lessons will be set up before students enter our ‘crime scene.”

River Dell Elementary STEM teacher Cindy Raynor received a Johnston County Education Foundation grant. Pictured (from left) are Assistant Principal Jenny Durko-Hudson, Principal Chad Jewett, Cindy Raynor, and Assistant Principal Tandra Mapp.

Students will quickly try to answer who, what, when, why, and where questions. They will examine the suspects, dust and compare suspects’ fingerprints, make a shoe print cast, and compare handwriting samples which are all included in the simulation kits. Other kits (such as the Nancy B’s Science kits) that students will use later in the week will investigate fibers, substances, and scents. They will also observe many pre-made slides of animal tracks, fingernails and hair samples using a microscope. Older students will use the teacher created guide (from the kits) to compile a summation of information and clues and explore the importance of ‘getting it right’ and not assuming. These students can prepare a slideshow presentation or create another presentation/animation/movie to share their team’s conclusions with their fellow scientists.

“At the end of each week, we will enjoy a sample of chemistry and microscopes, two fascinations of all children. We will gather information from microscope slides and compare our findings with others. We will also do simple lab experiments and form predictions using our senses,” Raynor said.

According to Assistant Principal Tandra Mapp, the school is glad to have the funds to make this project happen.

“We are very blessed to have Mrs. Raynor. She’s a phenomenal teacher, and the students never want to miss her class,” said Mapp. “Mrs. Raynor is very resourceful in finding funding for our school.”