Connecting Classroom Learning with Experts in the Field


Hello! My name is Amanda Haney and I have the unique opportunity to teach a class of gifted 5th graders in Euclid, OH. My students are fun and quirky, and each have their own set of gifts and talents that make me smile every day! My goal each year is to provide my students with a high-quality academic experience. I want families to feel confident their gifted students are receiving the best education possible at their local public school.

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This is my first year participating in LPS, and my students are loving it! When the first student’s letter arrives, they start asking how soon they’ll be able to open them. Letter opening day really does feel like Christmas! By far, the kids get most excited about seeing pictures of the scientists’ cute pets. But, they are also enthused when their scientist works in a field that we have studied in class.  One of the highlights this year came during our solar system unit. Several students’ pen pals work in engineering or astronomy and were able to write about space missions, Pluto, and the planets. The kids were super excited to read in their letters what we were learning about in class!

Here’s just a peek into what our class has studied this year, and how the scientists’ letters have enriched our classroom learning.

Ecosystems in the Fall…

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Every fall, our class studies ecosystems and food webs. Students create model ponds in the classroom with mosquitofish, snails, dragonfly nymphs, and other pond organisms. They observe, describe, and sketch the organisms and create food webs of their pond ecosystems. To learn about the scientific method, they even plan and conduct their own investigations using their model ponds. This unit always culminates in a field trip to lake Erie, which is 10 minutes from our school.

Many of the scientists asked questions about the students’ model pond investigations. The kids enjoyed writing about the different investigations they conducted and what their results were!

Solar System in the Winter…

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In the winter, we jumped into the Solar System, learning about what causes day and night, the seasons, and all about the planets and other Solar System objects. Students researched a planet, wrote reports, and created projects about their planet. Projects included everything from slide shows and posters to a game show and green screen videos. At the end of the unit, families came to view the students’ final projects!

Many of our scientists were able to write about space missions they are involved in or have special knowledge of. They shared additional information about the planets and Pluto with the 5th graders!

Physics in the Spring…:

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We just recently wrapped up what is always the students’ favorite unit: physics! Through readings, online simulations, and a ton of hands-on labs, our class learned all about the properties of light and sound and the laws of motion. We worked with colored light filters, built string telephones, and designed K’Nex cars…definitely a favorite!

Many of the 5th graders told their scientists what they had learned about light and sound. The scientists asked which experiments the kids liked the most, and talked about science activities they enjoyed as elementary students.

I cannot say enough about the Letters to a Pre-Scientist Program! It has been a highlight of the year, and my students have loved connecting with their scientists on both school and non-school topics. Many students are requesting to continue writing letters over the summer! This has truly been an awesome opportunity for my students.

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