Project Cornerstone Receives Touching Letter from Local Fifth Grade Teacher

Written by Alyssa Burley.

Ms. Kelly Nytes, a fifth grade science teacher at Central Elementary School, recently expressed her appreciation for Project Cornerstone's in-class activities in a letter to the organization.

"For the past two years, the fifth graders at Central Elementary School in San Diego Unified School District have been fortunate to participate in a Project Cornerstone classroom visit...Since the majority of our students are both English learners and living below the poverty line, these hands-on, real-world experiences are invaluable to them," writes Nytes.

She confirms "the lesson successfully meets many of our academic goals, but wouldn't be possible without the funding provided that allows Project Cornerstone to come to our school."

Ms. Nytes goes on to explain she doesn't have the budget to provide science programs like the one offered by Project Cornerstone.

"As a science prep teacher, I actually have no budget with which to buy supplies and materials.  I am always searching for ways to create engaging lessons without spending a great deal of my own money.  I would never be able to provide an opportunity like this to all five of our fifth grade classes (about 140 students) each year if it wasn't for Project Cornerstone," she writes.
We appreciate Ms. Nytes' comments and are glad that she highly recommends Project Cornerstone's program.

To support Project Cornerstone's programs, please visit or contact Crystal Howard at (619) 284-8515 or

Read Full Letter

In-Class Science Activities with Central Elementary Students

Written by Alyssa Burley.

On Wednesday, September 29, 2015, Project Cornerstone's Crystal Howard and Alyssa Burley visited three 5th-grade classes at Central Elementary in San Diego, CA.

Students learned about construction aggregates (i.e., sand, gravel and crushed stone) and how they are used to build roads, homes and schools in their communities.

The in-class program included a lecture about the local construction aggregates industry and sand shortage, a lab experiment where students analyzed sand samples to determine which type is best for making concrete, and a science project where students were able to make small concrete to take home.


Project Cornerstone will return to Central Elementary on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 to visit two more 5th-grade classes.

Fifth-graders At Central Elementary Perform Sieve Analysis on Construction Aggregate Samples and Make Concrete in the Classroom

Written by Alyssa Burley.

Over two days (May 5th and 12th) Project Cornerstone's Alyssa Burley and Crystal Howard, EnviroMINE's James DeCarolis, and volunteer Barbara took turns visiting five fifth-grade classes at Central Elementary in San Diego, CA.  Students learned about the importance of construction aggregates (i.e., sand, gravel and crushed stone). 

Fifth-grade students   at Central Elementary finishing the math portion of the sieve analysis.

Fifth-grade students at Central Elementary finishing the math portion of the sieve analysis.

After a short presentation, students were asked to look at two samples of construction aggregates (one with river sand and one with beach sand) and develop a hypothesis for the sample they thought would be best suited for making concrete.  The students tested their hypothesis by performing a sieve analysis.  The sieve analysis allows the students to separate the materials by size using a series of screens. The students weighed the contents captured on each screen.  The sample with the least amount of very fine sand is best for making concrete.  As expected, the students found river sand to be best for making concrete.

Using information learned during the presentation, students mixed their own concrete being careful to follow the recipe in order to keep the correct portions of sand, crushed stone, recycled aggregate, cement and water.

The presentation, sieve analysis and concrete project are designed to support the Next Generation Science Standards.