Curiosity Cube Sparks Hands-on Learning, Enrichment at Dater Montessori

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It can be difficult to get back into a groove on that first day back from spring break. But that wasn’t exactly the case for students at Dater Montessori, who came back to school with a large, colorfully-painted shipping container waiting for them in the school parking lot.

Rebecca Dowd, Curiosity Cube Coordinator (left), leads third-grade students through the DNA visualization experiment.

The Curiosity Cube is a mobile science lab that provides immersive learning experiences around science — from how DNA works to building a custom microbe using a 3D printer.

“An important part of the Montessori Method is providing environments where students can work and learn independently,” said Dater Montessori Principal Tony Grecco. “The Curiosity Cube is the perfect manifestation of that. It’s great to have students come back from spring break, especially before testing starts, and allow them to do something outside of the classroom that can spark their brain again.”

Powered by MilliporeSigma, a bioscience, technology and lab materials manufacturing company, the Curiosity Cube program started in 2017 as a way for MilliporeSigma employees to connect with their communities by leading experiments for students and discussing possible careers in STEM.

“It’s all about keeping that wonder, or, as the Curiosity Cube likes to call it, that spark,” said CPS Science Curriculum Manager Michelle Hughes.

Employees from the Norwood location volunteered at the Curiosity Cube at Dater Montessori, leading students through a virtual reality of cells through VR headsets, helping students solve clues about the parts of a human body they were looking at under a microscope and DNA visualization.

Rebecca Dowd, Curiosity Cube coordinator at MilliporeSigma, led students through the DNA visualization experiment. She instructed them to swish Gatorade in their mouths and spit into test tubes, which also contained water and a couple drops of liquid dish-washing soap. After gently turning the container upside down several times and adding more to the solution, students could observe white material suspended between liquid layers in the tube — their DNA.

“Oh, I can do this experiment at home,” one student realized. “I have all of these things at my house!”

Learn more about the Curiosity Cube at thecuriositycube.com. Keep up with Dater Montessori throughout the school year at datermontessori.cps-k12.org.

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