Students in Mrs. Keri Cornwell’s class at Symsonia Elementary are taking their science lessons on the road. Over the summer, Cornwell set a goal for the class mascot, Einstein, to travel to all 50 states and conduct science experiments. Excitement generated as word quickly spread to her incoming 3rd and 4th graders; and, the adventures began.
Cornwell’s students or family members sign out the plush Einstein toy to take him along on their travels. Students conduct a science experiment of their choice while on their journey. Some experiments have tied directly to nature or unique characteristics of the state. Einstein’s travels are documented with pictures brought back to the school. The pictures are added to the classroom’s hanging artwork of the United States of America allowing students to see him grow closer to his goal. In addition to capturing pictures, students have added souvenir pins to Einstein's sweater showcasing where he traveled.
“In Alaska, Einstein participated in the salmon run and brought back all kinds of facts about the salmon life cycle. In Texas, he participated in a cattle drive and brought back facts about longhorn cattle,” Mrs. Cornwell stated. “The goal is to make science fun, allow student choice of experiments, and incorporate geography as well by learning the location of 50 states. The benefits so far have been excitement for science and allowing our science class to be in my students' lives outside of school. It is also great for building relationships with parents as they take part in this project.”
Ollie Ray, a 4th grader at Symsonia, has enjoyed the experience. “I LOVED taking Einstein with me to Wisconsin! We learned so much! We even saw Wind Turbines on our way out there. Now we are learning about energy in science; and, I got to share with the class how Einstein and I saw them in person.
“I LOVED taking Einstein with me to the mountains of Virginia. We performed a chemical reaction to blow up a balloon. We also rode the Virginia Creeper trail on bicycles through the mountains,” said 3rd grader, Harper Goatley.
Another 3rd grade classmate, Annalyn Archer, took Einstein to Illinois. She introduced him to family members (real-life scientists) who gave them both some lessons in biology.
To date, Einstein has visited 13 states, including: Washington, Alaska, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina. Currently, he is at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He also has plans to travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on Fall Break.