Rockets Blastoff in Princeton
Princeton Unified School District (PUSD) in Colusa County had a great need to raise their students’ STAR test scores, which were below expectation in science and math. Additionally, they hoped to encourage more students to take advantage of their afterschool programs at the high school campus, which provide study time, one-on-one tutoring, physical activity, and recreation.
In addition to enriching their academic life, it is essential that students learn the importance of serving the community. Helping others and working cooperatively are lifelong skills that enhance everyone’s life.
What has 4-H Done?
Colusa County 4-H began the Princeton Afterschool Rocketry Project in collaboration with the Princeton Unified School District with assistance from Tehama UCCE and the California 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) initiative. With the California 4-H SET Service Learning funds, Colusa County 4-H provided rocketry supplies to the afterschool program, SET training for their staff, and curriculum from the Tehama and Colusa County 4-H programs.
The project renewed 4-H skills for the afterschool coordinators. The junior and senior high students worked in teams and enjoyed making “rocket snacks”, film canister rockets, homemade kites, and multi-stage rockets. 4-H was new to these students and taught them that hands-on science can be fun and educational at the same time. Furthermore, they learned that cooperating with others leads to greater success and a more enjoyable experience.
When the afterschool program ended due to lack of funding, Colusa County 4-H worked with the elementary summer school to provide the curriculum and non-consumable supplies. The staff enthusiastically embraced the opportunity and suggested the possibility of continuing the program at the elementary afterschool site.
Through the 4-H curriculum, hands-on learning, and inquiry-based learning, the afterschool students learned that science is fun and can be a part of their everyday activities. 4-H skills were introduced to the participants and program coordinators, and the school superintendent has learned that 4-H is a valuable resource for his school. Increasing science knowledge and use of the afterschool program was successful. The STAR testing results found the students did “surprisingly well,” reports Superintendent John Greene, “with students meeting the API band and Princeton Unified receiving full accreditation from WASC.” Furthermore, incorporating the elementary school into the program was an unforeseen additional benefit.