By Camille Lozano

Every day, students at Ingenuity Charter School are encouraged to explore. ‘To explore new technology, to build knowledge and achieve outside of the traditional public school setting, and to work toward their career goals with determination and focus.

But exploring isn’t confined to students’ time spent at Ingenuity Charter School. Ingenuity’s blended, independent study online curriculum gives students the freedom to learn when they want and where they want, aided by dedicated professionals in a one-on-one setting.

Now Ingenuity’s partnered with the Elementary Institute of Science to extend students’ exploration and learning into the community – just one intersection away from Ingenuity’s Student Resource Center.

This state-of-the-art school, specifically designed for laboratory activities and exploration into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math blended labs, provides engaging, hands-on learning experiences for Ingenuity students.

“Independent study programs usually do science in-house, but we wanted a different experience for our students,” Ingenuity Charter School’s Principal Tiffany DeGraffenreid, said. “Students get to experience lots of activities that keep them collaborating, and it’s so close too, which is great for us and our students.”

At EIS, Ingenuity students work with two different instructors who are qualified, content experts in the courses they are teaching. The students are taught by their instructors at a 10-to-1 ratio, giving students the time they need to ask questions and receive help.

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The labs correspond with Edgenuity, Ingenuity Charter School’s online curriculum program so students can connect their lab experiences to their online course work.

Ingenuity students are learning biology and geology, integrated with STEM-based activities. Ingenuity offers six different science courses equivalent to middle and high-school courses but adjusts to what students need.

Jymar Daniel, a junior at Ingenuity, says coming to EIS with her classmates and learning about geodynamics, geology and Earth, has helped her to realize how having a degree can help her be successful in her future career.

“I want to be a missionary, first in Mexico and then in Africa,” Daniel said. “Coming here on Wednesdays is really exciting. I’ve learned how engineering could help me to be a better missionary. If I had a degree, I could help that much more.”

Ingenuity students have completed geology labs to learn about Earth processes and plate tectonics using Oreo cookies to model natural shifting. To understand geodynamics and learn about engineering, students got to build model bridges.

Additionally, they’ve completed labs on mineralogy, covered geological timescale and fossils, learned to identify different types of rocks and explored the influence of water on Earth’s surface processes.

Paper bags and peanut butter were also a part of equation as the students work through biology labs. These materials were used to mimic the cell’s structure and diffusion through a membrane. Next students worked through labs focusing on biological molecules, cell respiration and photosynthesis, and cell division and genetics.

With Ingenuity Charter School and EIS, students aren’t just completing these labs to fulfill learning requirements. Ingenuity makes sure students know why they are learning these concepts and how it can apply to every day occurrences and STEM careers.

A lab highlighting mitosis, meiosis, fertilization and heredity could spark a student’s interest in research or medicine. Learning about DNA extraction can be applied to a career in forensics or medicine as well. And understanding seismic waves and Earth’s magnetism helps provide insight into important considerations often made by geophysicists and paleomagnetists.

“Our students are more involved in STEM, and they enjoy the pace of the labs (at EIS),” Degraffenreid said. “It’s great to have them here at this specialized facility and to have such a great community partner.”

The students will be completing labs at EIS in conjunction with their online Edgenuity curriculum until June.

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