Friday, March 3, 2006
Questions spark kids' excitement in science learning
Science coordinator (and third-grade teacher) Jen Lyons presented an overview of the science curriculum for grades K-8 at the February 15 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC). "Science is very strong here," she said. "The teachers enjoy teaching science and all have the firm belief that science should be inquiry-based. Carlisle Public Schools have excellent science instruction."
She explained how the new benchmark process is assisting teachers in planning which science subjects to teach at each grade level. "At all grade levels, we look at what we teach," she said. They review what the state says each child should be learning, and what the school thinks the students should learn.
The after-school Science, Technology, and Engineering Process (STEP) classes, or "clubs," have enabled the school to acquire new science materials such as electricity kits and Legos that are also used during regular class instruction. Topics have included Electricity, Water Water Everywhere (K-2), Car Engineering, Lego Robotics, Simple Machines, and Digital Diaries. Spring courses will include Biology Experiments, Structures, Lego Robotics, and Anatomy of the Computer.
The courses have had a high level of participation, she said, and have fostered a partnership with parents and teachers. The clubs are so popular that there are waiting lists. CSC member Christy Barbee asked, "How can we deal with over-subscribed clubs?" Lyons tries to "make sure kids get at least one experience" and the program will give preference in the spring clubs to students who did not yet participate. By the end of this first year, about 15 different clubs will have been offered.
Lyons said the STEP clubs are not designed to match the current curriculum, but are designed to encourage children's interest in science. Nevertheless, Lyons will explore ways to more closely integrate classroom and science club subjects.
Another source of ideas for science instruction is the Boston Museum of Science. Lyons said they have materials the school can borrow. She also recommended more science-related professional development for teachers. CSC member David Docktorman suggested a new approach to science enrichment, "We have an artist-in-residence, why not a scientist-in-residence?"
© 2006 The