From Endurance to Dressage
Science in the Kitchen
By now, you all know I am a teacher, and if you didn't know that, teaching elementary school is what I do to finance my real life - owning and riding horses. While I've taught every grade from kindergarten through sixth, I've been teaching fifth graders the longest; I think this is my twelfth year. I love to learn myself, so I am always looking for ways to make learning fun while still being rigorous.
Science in particular really floats my boat. A few years ago, the science standards - what we teach at each grade level, were revised. We now follow the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS. NGSS were adopted and introduced before we even had a curriculum with which to teach. Loving science as much as I do, I dug deep and wrote my own digital textbook which I used for at least three years.
This year, just in time for the pandemic, my district purchased a brand new curriculum, Amplify. To my utter delight, it is organized exactly the way my self-created version of the standards were, but it's better. Each of the four units comes with a digital platform and its own investigation notebook. The lessons are very hands on and include clever simulations that the kids can run on their computers. During each of the four units, the students take on the role of specialists in a particular field - Water Resource Engineers, Astronomers, Food Scientists, and Ecologists.
In the unit that we're just finishing up, Modeling Matter, we took on the role of Food Scientists in order to help a faux company design a better salad dressing, one in which the dressing didn't settle and leave sediment at the bottom of the bottle, think Italian dressing. During the unit, we learned about molecules, attraction, and this week, emulsifiers.
For each of the three units I've taught so far, we've done a lot of investigations in our kitchens, mine and theirs. I send parents a message letting them know what "ingredients" we'll need to perform the demonstrations. I set up my iPad so the kids can see my demonstration, and I run the Google Meet (similar to Zoom) from a laptop. We always joke that it feels as though we're doing a cooking show on the Food Network. The kids can see the lesson that I share from my computer while also being able to watch the hands on part through my iPad. Not all of the kids have families who will provide the necessary ingredients, but we do our best.
After using an emulsifier to show that oil and water can be "forced" to remain mixed, we also talked about soluble ingredients. We played around with finding ingredients that dissolve because our task as food scientists was to create a dressing that didn't leave a sediment. That got me thinking about the GastroElm that I give Izzy each day. I love to learn myself, so I brought some home to add to our science lesson.
During yesterday's science lesson, done in my kitchen, I showed the kids what happens when we add water to the GastroElm. We watched to see if it would dissolve or not. When a liquid or a solid dissolve or remain mixed without separating, we know that their molecules are attracted to each other. The kids were super excited to see the GastroElm form a thick gel right in front of their eyes! It was clear that the molecules of the solid (the GastroElm) were indeed attracted to the molecules of the water. At that moment, my entire class was dreaming of becoming scientists!
Once the lesson was over, the kids started asking if they could see my horses and the ranch where they live. Really? No need to ask twice. I am already planning a remote, remote broadcast from the ranch. All I need to do is create a hotspot with my phone, and I can teach from the ranch with the horses in the background.
I think that is science any kid would love. Teachers too, especially this one!
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: