On a recent Monday morning, LPIE Science instructor Joanne Layshock led a class of special education students at Acalanes High School in an experiment to illustrate the properties of different substances.
Each student was given a tray that held a cup of blue colored water and a cup of cooking oil. Assisted by their aides, the students poured the blue water into the oil and observed how the substances separated into layers.
As the students watched the results of their experiment, Layshock walked around the room and poured honey into the cups, first asking students to guess what would happen when she did that. As the thick honey sank to the bottom of the cup, she asked the class to observe what was happening.
“Why do you think the honey sent to the bottom?” Layshock asked. “Because it’s heavier!” answered one student.
The students then dropped smaller objects such as rice, a toothpick, a noodle and a paperclip into the cup to see if they would sink or float in the layers. This task was not easy for every student, but the classroom’s aides were on hand to help students who needed help completing the experiment.
This Science class is part of a new LPIE program that provides Science, Art and Music classes to the special education class at Acalanes High School. LPIE piloted the classes last spring, and they were so well received that the program is continuing throughout the current school year.
LPIE will provide up to 10 Art and Science classes and 10 music therapy classes for the current school year. Layshock instructs the Science classes, while LPIE art instructor Julie Lyverse provides the art lessons. Music therapist Theresa Srch-Nelson gives interactive music sessions to the class.
Jasmina Radmanovic, who teaches one of the special education class at Acalanes, says the program has been great for her students to get a deeper understanding of Science, Art and Music. For example, the class will focus on weather this year in Science, and the LPIE lessons will all supplement the curriculum.
“They really look forward to having another person come in and talk to them,” said Radmanovic, who noted that the LPIE instructors do a good job of delivering the lessons at a level where the students can both understand and participate with minimal help from their aides.
Layshock followed up the experiment with a worksheet in which the students made a picture of the cups by gluing colored paper to represent the different substances. Then, the students had to draw a line to show where the solid objects landed in the cup.
Later the same week, the students enjoyed a music lesson taught by LPIE instructor Theresa Srch-Nelson. During Srch-Nelson’s music class, the students were full of smiles as they sat in a circle playing drums, tambourines and other musical instruments.
Nelson sat at the head of the class and led the students in a “hello” song. To participate, the students had to choose between two students to greet, and after they chose, the entire class sang a hello song to that person.
As they sang and played their instruments, the students were engaged, interacting with each other and enjoying the lesson.
This enthusiasm the students feel for the LPIE classes is one of the most valuable takeaways from the program, says Radmanovic.
“The main thing is how excited they get about the lessons,” she said.