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Hands-on Science Experiments Produce Questions and Solutions for Students at Knapp Academy

It doesn’t matter which grade you’re in when you walk through the door of Cierra Bowser’s classroom, you’re considered a scientist, and she addresses you appropriately. The 6-8 grade science teacher at Knapp Charter Academy recently worked with her group of students on experiments to identify liquids.
The young scientists tested four different liquids that all looked the same, for solubility, density, flammability, melting point, and aroma. They recorded their findings in a data table and used that information to decide which sample was isopropyl alcohol, vinegar, water, and hydrogen peroxide.

Students recorded their observations and findings on a data table.
“When the physical and chemical reactions occurred, students were mesmerized and very inquisitive,” Bowser said. “The number of thought-provoking questions, observations, and conclusions the students came up with made me feel like I'm in this role for a purpose much larger than myself. They are a very gifted group of individuals.” 
Students also learned about lab safety procedures, researching a topic, collecting data, examining results, and sharing conclusions – all key elements of the scientific process. The experiments also prompted Bowser to send an apologetic email to school staff.

Students watch for reactions during their experiments.

“Just wanted to apologize for the awful smells coming from my room last week,” the email read. “Our scholars were testing properties of matter in an identifying liquids lab. If you smelled vinegar or burning paper, it was us.”
Bowser was also able to teach many students the correct way to work with fire in a controlled environment.
 A student pours a liquid into a test tube containing a solid.
“Fortunately, many children do not have access to fire at this age. However, this group of students is very mature, respectful, and engaged, and I determined they were more than capable of following proper procedures for working with fire.
“Hands-on learning is the most necessary component for engaging students, deepening understanding and facilitating a life-long love of wonder.”
Students enjoyed having the trust to work with different elements, including fire.
Bowser also used the lab as an introduction to the long-term projects which will be displayed in a middle school-wide science fair near the end of the school year.
Great work promoting learning and safety, Mrs. Bowser!

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About Knapp Charter Academy
Knapp Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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