Gov. Bentley stops by Riverchase Elementary School

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gov. Robert Bentley looks on as Sarah Weaver's third grade class uses different strategies to solve a complicated addition equation. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Gov. Robert Bentley looks on as Sarah Weaver’s third grade class uses different strategies to solve a complicated addition equation. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—Sarah Weaver’s Riverchase Elementary School third graders eagerly explained their strategies to solve a complex addition equation to a special visitor on Oct. 14. This visitor wasn’t just anyone, it was Gov. Robert Bentley.

“The way they reasoned that out was very logical,” Bentley said, impressed with the third graders’ math skills. “Our children are being taught in a different way… I think it’s a reasoning process, and it’s a good thing.”

Weaver’s classroom was just one stop during Bentley’s hour-long visit to Riverchase Elementary School. Bentley also explored the school’s unique STEAM laboratory and observed Nikki Barnett’s fifth graders as they combined art and science in their study of aphids and spiders.

Students thoughtfully compared the differences between spiders and aphids using Chromebooks to research, a microscope to observe the intricate details of the creatures and finally their artistic talents to sketch what they saw.

“It allows (students) to think outside the box, to problem solve,” Riverchase Elementary Principal Alice Turney said of the new STEAM laboratory.

Although called a laboratory, the STEAM classroom is not a laboratory in the traditional sense. The space is meant to enrich the learning experience and is open to any teacher for any subject, Turney explained.

“You just sign up and you go,” Turney said. “We don’t have a teacher assigned to it.”

Activities in the STEAM laboratory have covered everything from Barnett’s students’ study of arachnids and insects to a workshop on creating circuits, designed to help students strengthen problem solving skills, Turney said.

Bentley’s visit gave Riverchase Elementary a chance to showcase some of the innovative learning techniques teachers are using at the school, and throughout the Hoover City School System.

“It’s just a good opportunity for our school… we have such wonderful things going on,” Hoover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy said. “We’re always happy to show off and show out.”