‘Deepen their curiosity of learning’

I always find it interesting to learn about different cultures. One of the articles I wrote for the SanTan Sun News involved talking to a principal in Colombia. Of course it was all done through email, but it was interesting to learn about Marie Curie school.

Colombian students to participate in Chandler’s Science Saturday

Published Feb. 1 in SanTan Sun News

Students from Marie Curie school in Colombia will participate in the Chandler Science Spectacular this month to showcase what they are studying and to deepen their curiosity of learning .

Nine students between the ages of 10 and 15, as well as two teachers, Diana Carolina Ravelo Salazar and Estefany Jaramillo, and Principal German Rodríguez Mogollon, will travel to Arizona. They will be in the States from Feb. 19 through March 23. Chandler Science Saturday is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat., Feb. 22, along Commonwealth Avenue.

The students will showcase five projects while at Chandler Science Saturday—extinct and endangered species in Colombia, hydroelectricity, Gorgona Island, La Candelaria and an art endeavor.

“In the school, we are very interested in the participation of our students in events of science and arts,” says Mogollon in an email statement. “Everything that awakens their curiosity and interest for knowing and discovering new things is very important. Traveling, going to science fairs, universities, opens their possibilities and encourages them to make better projects.”

The school serves 1,300 students from kindergarten through 11th grade, which is the last grade for high schools in Colombia. Marie Curie school opened nine years ago with a main goal of encouraging students to become scientists and artists.

“This decision is justified because Colombia has very few scientists and artists, compared to fi rst world countries,” the principal says. “To stimulate our students’ love for knowledge in school, we make a lot of activities.”

For example, time is set aside every week for scientifi c education, a day for students to participate in activities related to the scientifi c method. The students focus on observation, experimentation, measurement, communication and analysis.

Students also participate in “expert’s project,” which changes every year. To become experts, the students spend the entire year researching their topic, as well as fi nding experts in the field and visiting places related to that topic. Some of those topics have included cancer, space rockets, the Aztecs and hydroelectricity.

“For example, last year some students traveled to Mexico because they were experts in Aztecs,” he explains.

When the school year begins, Mogollon says, students scour books, the Internet, movies and experiences with their teacher’s leadership to decide a topic of interest.

“Next they decide on a research question and set their objectives, they carry out the theoretical framework,” he says. “At the end they report the results and draw conclusions.”

In November the school hosts a Science Week, to provide each course an opportunity to showcase its project. Conferences and other activities related to the general theme are held during that week. The principal says last year’s theme focused on water.

Marie Curie offi cials are constantly looking for ways to improve its students’ education. Last year, Academic Principal Fabiola Grisales sent an email to many universities and centers of education in the United States.

“The first in respond was Jeremy Babendure, executive director of the Arizona SciTech Festival,” Mogollon says. “They invited us to visit Arizona.”

So he and Grisales traveled to Arizona last September and met with Babendure, as well as many others who work in the science festivals of Flagstaff and Phoenix.

“We asked them for opportunities for our teachers and students,” he says.

Those opportunities discussed included courses that improve the teachers’ abilities to teach science and arts, courses to improve English, resources to teach science and opportunities for students to participate in Arizona science festivals.

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