El Rincon is the only elementary school in the Culver City school district to have a science lab equipped for hands-on discovery and ready for the Next Generation Science Standards. Young scientists visit the lab on a two-week rotation for guided instruction, sometimes with visiting scientists, botanists, engineers, and access to living specimens. The lab supplements classroom instruction in a space where these young scientists create models of structures that can withstand hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Students learn about weather and currents, monitor climate change, and see into the tiny world of microscopes.
Kindergarteners create roller coasters and experiment with the physics of Pushes and Pulls, Ramps and Slopes on a larger scale than the classroom environment can accommodate. Fifth graders create solutions and experiment with chemical and physical change, as well as reversing the process. Third graders drop parachutes of their own design from the balcony to see how air currents and gravity work. Fourth graders build solar cars and see how design changes may alter speed, or look into the eye of an animal to see how it works. Individual inquiry is encouraged through the scientific method, which is taught at all grade levels.
Materials from the lab can be borrowed for classroom use and for science fair projects. The lab is supported and maintained by an Instructional Assistant specific to the lab, assisting teachers during group and individual learning. STEM education, with an art component, in a space designed for exploration, is an integral part El Rincon’s focus.