Sunnyside students SEEKing tougher challenges in the classroom

What is the very best paper towel for the cost?

Don't know?

Well, the 3rd grade students enrolled in Sunnyside's Enrichment Education for Kids (SEEK) were working on that very question earlier this week. Using four mystery brands, the students tested and ranked absorbency and strength, then calculated the cost of each sheet by using the purchase price.

This is just one activity the highly capable students enrolled in the SEEK program can be found engaged in every week.

Teacher Susan Garrison works with these gifted students from grades 3, 4 and 5, both at Pioneer and Chief Kamiakin elementary schools, meeting with them before or after school two days a week.

Potential SEEK students are identified by request, either by parent or teacher. They are then given a nonverbal intelligence test called Raven which is then compared to their regular Map testing scores. Students must also write an essay.

It is not easy to get accepted into SEEK, but certainly worth it for the children who make it in. Though they must put in a longer school day, the experience is remarkably challenging.

From history to physics, SEEK students tackle a range of topics and subjects throughout the year.

So far this year, the students have learned about microscopes, plants, ocean life, the human body, earthquakes, eyes and cameras and consumer reports, hence the paper towel testing this past week.

And the projects are just as interesting. They have built their own toys using physic principals, observed sun and moon patterns, and constructed their own buildings designed to withstand their very own "earthquake table."

Students have also dissected everything from owl pellets and hearts to computers.

And in case you are wondering, the computer turned on again when the students put it back together.

Garrison also teaches the students basic social skills. The students share with the group before they start on their projects and she encourages them to work together and teach each other whenever possible.

The real benefit of the program is that it does not seek to isolate SEEK students from the rest of the school. Since all SEEK activities take place before or after school, the students have an opportunity to learn and grow in two nurturing environments.

Curious about which brand of paper towels withstood the 3rd graders' endurance tests earlier this week?

That would be Thirsty, a Safeway brand that won with flying colors.


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