DVMS teachers create excitement around science

Alberto Monge, right, and Gerardo Saldana challenge their seventh-grade science classes at Diamond Valley Middle School in Hemet to a science battle with questions, experiments and friendly competition. Valley News/Courtesy photo

HEMET – Two seventh-grade science teachers from Diamond Valley Middle School in Hemet created an academic battle between their two classes as they found new ways to teach online and engage their students in a digital setting.

It all started when teacher Alberto Monge challenged the students in teacher Gerardo Saldana’s class to a science battle. Then Saldana accessed Monge’s Google classroom and challenged his students to prove that they could beat his class in an academic battle. The classes merged together virtually and began chatting.

Monge asked students questions based on information students were learning in class. As soon as a student knew the answer, they would type it in. The first student to get the correct answer with correct spelling was awarded a point for their class.

Each question led to an experiment Saldana performed. Soon students began making the connection between their questions, such as “What is thermal energy?” “What state of matter is water?” and “The beaker looks empty, but what is inside the beaker?”

Saldana heated up a beaker with a deflated balloon covering the opening. As he heated the beaker, students realized that by adding thermal energy to a beaker filled with air, it caused the balloon to inflate.

“What works in a typical classroom doesn’t always work online, so we are challenging old beliefs and testing everything to see how to make distance learning more enjoyable, productive and engaging for our students,” Saldana said.

The two teachers said they were encouraged by the engagement of the students throughout the class period as they enjoyed a little friendly competition. Throughout the lesson, students sent messages to their classmates, saying, “Come on guys, we got this; we will beat Mr. Monge’s class.”

Principal Jonathan Workman said, “Mr. Saldana and Mr. Monge both are excellent examples of how teachers are working hard during this pandemic to put kids first and make sure that learning continues to happen.”

Submitted by Hemet Unified School District.