Students have eye for ‘Mystery Science’ in Cullman City Schools

Fourth-grade students create eye models as part of a science project to learn how the eye functions, as well as how some common vision problems can occur. (Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Students at East Elementary School are getting to delve into the more mysterious corners of the science curriculum, thanks to an Operation Round-Up grant that helped fund membership in the Mystery Science curriculum for hands-on lessons and projects.

East Elementary School fourth-grade teacher April Dean wrote the grant for the $1,200 membership in the program, which is benefiting almost 600 students at the school. Mystery Science is a supplemental science resource that features engaging videos and experiments based on grade-level standards. Every lesson is based on a question, which is designed to engage students’ natural curiosity. The experiments are designed to “grab” students and spur them to think outside the box to solve a problem.

The most recent lesson had students discover how the eye works, as well as the cause of some common vision problems. Students used a magnifying lens as the cornea and an index card for the retina.  They then stood beside the classroom windows and had to hold both at just the right distance to view an image.

(Cullman City Schools)

“When they saw the window reflected clearly on their card, it was ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ all over the room, music to a science teacher’s ears,” Dean said. “They discovered that the structure of our eyes can determine some vision problems.  The image was blurry if the ‘cornea’ and ‘retina’ were too close or too far apart.”

After learning the basics of how the eye functions, students made pupil cards for the eye models to show how eyes let light in for us to see, and how as it gets dark, as the iris makes the pupil enlarge to take in more light.

Along with the support from Operation Round-Up, Northbrook Church also helped support the project by helping purchase magnifying lenses used in the model for all 120 fourth-grade students.

“Because of Northbrook’s generosity, my students could each take their eye models home to show their families after our lessons,” Dean said. “Educating students is a team effort. I appreciate our community so much, and look forward to more Mystery Science lessons this year.”