Evolving Relationships

All letter-opening days are exciting for our pre-scientists.  But each one is a bit different. The first day is full of curiosity. The students don’t really know what to expect. Our teachers do their best to try and set the stage, but each student will have a very different idea of what their scientist is going to be like.

20160212_092801The students learn a lot when the letters arrive on the first day.  Many scientists send samples from their work, souvenirs from where they live, pictures of their families or hobbies and many other things.These types of extras really help the kids relate to their pen pal. However, a warmly written letter can do just as well.

Often, the first letter-opening day is the first experience the students have with a physical letter.  Helping the students to properly address a letter is always an interesting battle.  The students eventually become experts in this!

The second letter-opening day is more about the development of the relationship between the student and scientist. The students each have specific things they are looking forward to.  We asked some of the student’s from Ms. Madden’s 5th grade classes what their favorite part about having a pen pal was. Here are some of their responses:

“My favorite part of letter opening day was when she sent pictures of Hawaii…”

“[My pen pal] was having lots of fun in the swamp. It looked like she had a lot of fun!”

“Her cat’s name is Bean…because when she goes to sleep she looks like a jelly bean.”

“…peromyscus means a white footed mouse…”

“I want my pen pal to know…I have a nature collection… I want to know…if she has a collection…and what things she has in her collection”

“I want my pen pal to know that he inspired me to even love more science…”

“[my pen pal] helped me know about the new stuff…and also about how it is over there to live with alligators”

What is pretty amazing about these quotes is that you can see the diversity of ways to connect with your pen pal. It could be silly little personal things like telling your students why your cat’s name is Bean. It could be letting your student know what your work life is really like.


By the end of the second letter-opening day, you can really sense the pride each student has in how cool his or her pen pal is!  In many cases, the student-pen pal relationship progressively deepens over the course of the year. The feeling of anticipation in the class shifts from mildly frantic curiosity to a more genuine sense of wanting to learn and share with the scientists. The students we work with have varying abilities to write back, however, it doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy your letter. It’s amazing how even the toughest kid who says they hate science and doesn’t participate normally in class gets excited when they see an envelope addressed to them by name.

Looking forward, all three classes at Equitas Academy will be opening and responding to your letters in the next week! Look for your response in the mail soon!


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