Barbe Elementary students take on Common Core

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

More than 100 schoolchildren and their parents assembled at Barbe Elementary School on Tuesday night for a hands-on look at

math and science in action.

The school’s annual Tackling Common Core Through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) brought teachers and community members together to give

parents an inside look at how their children are learning in the classroom.

Adopted in 45 of the 50 states, including Louisiana, Common Core State Standards teach reading, writing and math skills in

a more rigorous and in-depth manner.

“Common Core takes what the children

learn and instead of teaching them a broad scope of things it narrows

down the scope,

making the curriculum more rigorous and teaching it in a deeper

manner,” said Mark LeBeau, an art teacher at Barbe Elementary


“If kids can touch it, feel it and do it, they learn. And that’s a scientific, proven fact. If they do it with their hands

they’ll remember it way more than if they just read about it.

LeBeau’s Common Core activity taught

students about the scientific method with nothing more than an ashtray, a

small piece

of Styrofoam and a capful of acetone. After he explained that

acetone is used as nail polish remover, he asked students to

think about what would happen if he poured it over the Styrofoam.

Think of a hypothesis, he said to them, an educated guess.

LeBeau then poured a capful of acetone over the Styrofoam and students watched it dissolve in the ashtray.

“If you’re hypothesis was that it would melt, you were right,” he said.

LeBeau’s experiment was one of eight

activities held. In the school’s multipurpose room, two fifth-grade

girls played a game

in which they were shown a card with the name of a geometric

shape. The first one to find the card with the corresponding

shape displayed on it scored a point. But they weren’t asked to

find squares or circles. These girls were asked to pick out

shapes such as a rhombus, a parallelogram, a pentagon and a

triangular prism.

In the cafeteria, students learned

about the states of matter by making ice cream. Each student poured a

mixture of milk,

vanilla and sugar into a Ziploc bag, sealed it, and placed the bag

into another Ziploc bag filled with ice water. After each

student shook the bag for about five minutes, vanilla ice cream

was made inside.

“This experiment takes the states of matter out of the textbook and makes it hands-on where kids can see it happening,” said

Amanda Rogers, a third-grade teacher at Barbe Elementary School. So it brings it to the deeper level of understanding. And

they love it. Cold hands, yummy ice cream. They leave happy.”

But Common Core activities were not just about games and experiments. Steven Joubert, state Department of Health and Hospitals

regional engineer for Region 5, explained to students that his job is to ensure that the drinking water in their homes is

safe to drink.

“A lot of people don’t have safe drinking water,” he said.

Joubert said he participated in this year’s Common Core activities because he wanted to inspire children who like math and

science to consider engineering as a career.

“Most of the kids ask me how much money I make and how long I had to go to school,” he said, with a laugh. “It’s a pretty

important job, I guess; it pays the bills.”

Barbe Elementary Principal Sharon Ruffin-Hardy said one of the evening’s biggest goals was to give parents information on

Common Core’s various regulations and an understanding of the rigors of its curriculum.

“Common Core is not going away; it’s here and it’s in everything that we do,” she said. “But we want to focus in on the math

because math is a strong strand as far as one of the disciplines that we need to do.”