Mammoth puts science into stem

Co-authors Rico, John and Miguel discuss photo options for their book with tutor, Steve Rumsey. Co-author Sondra was not available for this photo.

Co-authors Rico, John and Miguel discuss photo options for their book with tutor, Steve Rumsey. Co-author Sondra was not available for this photo.

Sidonia St. Germaine

Educators have long known that it is important to introduce science to children in the earliest years of their education. It is best done through hands-on experiments and projects that provide stimulating and creative learning.

Mammoth Elementary School (Mammoth, Arizona) is fortunate to have a science tutor from SaddleBrooke. Steve Rumsey (Unit 43), a retired science teacher, has a doctorate (ED.D) from State University of New York and taught high school science in Wellesley, Massachusetts for seventeen years. Steve and his wife, Cathy, moved to SaddleBrooke from Boston in 2006.

Steve tutored at San Manuel High School beginning in 2007. Then in 2011 he learned that Mammoth Elementary was changing from a traditional school to a STEM (science; technology; engineering; math) program. Though he had no previous experience with elementary-age students, he started tutoring at Mammoth and has been there ever since. His first Grade 6 class will graduate from San Manual High School this year.

Steve spends a minimum of an hour with each of the four classes one day a week. First and second grades are combined, as are third and fourth, fifth and sixth. Kindergarten is separate. There are a total of four teachers and between 75 and 80 students in the school. Steve produces a specialized lesson plan for each grade.

Some examples of projects Steve and the students have worked on include determining the difference in air absorption between refrigerated and non-refrigerated eggs (kindergarten); the ability to extend battery life of small batteries considered “dead” (first and second graders); sensitivity of bean growth in soils of varying salinity (third and fourth graders); energy output of solar panels as well as making their own hydroponic setups from recycled materials (fifth and sixth graders).

In January and February the students worked on projects for the Southern Arizona Regional Science Fair (SARSEF) for which they have won numerous awards over the years.

A very exciting project materialized when Steve began giving one-on-one reading help to one particular student. The student had very creative ideas which he and Steve utilized to write a book. The student asked if friends could help in the project. They all offered ideas to form a story of the adventures of a Grade 6 science club. The text is complete and they are now looking for an artist to do illustrations. Steve will self-publish the book. How to promote the book is still in question and any suggestions would be welcome.

It is very obvious that Steve Rumsey loves what he is doing. He exudes excitement when talking about how wonderful the children are. There is certainly a benefit for all participants and Steve is able to get his “kid fix.”

The San Manuel/Mammoth School District is always looking for more volunteer tutors to help their students. Please contact SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) for more details.