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Lillian Larsen students experiment with liquid nitrogen 

Lillian Larsen

Lillian Larsen science teacher Melissa Cooper, right, and her assistants Anne Wilson, center, and Dorothy Hale demonstrated the effect of liquid nitrogen on the air in a balloon, a banana, and homemade ice cream.

Wednesday block schedule allows for longer hands-on opportunities

Twenty-six Lillian Larsen School eighth graders gathered in the cafeteria and to put their books down for some hands-on learning. Every Wednesday, Lillian Larsen eighth graders get new opportunities to try out what they’ve been learning. Last week, the eighth graders participated in an ice cream-making experiment that demonstrated the changes in matter through the addition of liquid nitrogen. Lillian Larsen science teacher Melissa Cooper and her assistants Anne Wilson and Dorothy Hale showed the effect of liquid nitrogen on the air in a balloon, a banana and flowers before getting to the homemade ice cream — which the students also got to eat.
“Since we’re small we don’t have a science lab … we’re using the cafeteria,” Lillian Larsen Principal Judy Bedell said.
The school offers STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — through a creative schooling program. She said that Wednesday’s experiment went very well.
“The kids were just enthralled seeing how liquid nitrogen effects [different things],” Bedell said. “The science conversations were fantastic with lots of predictions and ‘what if’s?'” She said there was also some great science talk about molecules, atoms and changes in states of matter.
This year, the school changed its schedule to allow for block scheduling on Wednesdays. The block schedule day includes math and science, physical education, language arts or social studies and one of seven electives that rotate every quarter. Some of those classes include agriculture, architecture, gaming, art, economics and drama/debate.
“We do some kind of hands-on project-based learning [on block schedule days],” Bedell said.
Bedell said that Lillian Larsen middle school students benefit from small, leveled classes taught by single-subject credentialed teachers. “In other words, we have a math expert teaching math,[a] science expert teaching science, etc.,” she said.
The school is located at 1601 L St. in San Miguel and serves children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
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