Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Developing the Science Lab: Explorations That Matter

Educators and leaders at the elementary level are devoting substantial time and effort into developing the elementary science program. This investment has been going on for years with good result overall. What has happened?

  • Embedding FOSS Science Program as the main elementary program
  • Enriching FOSS with a variety of outside resources including Mystery Science, related books and videos, and child-friendly materials
  • Forwarding a minimum of three STEAM activities at each grade level
  • Yearly attention to creativity and invention in a number of ways including The Global Cardboard Challenge
  • Field studies, grants, and expert visitors
  • Environmental education events 
This has been a lot of work, work that has included the following challenges:
  • acquisition of good learning furniture including tables and storage units.
  • acquisition of countless materials
  • refiguring classroom spaces to make space for science exploration
  • refiguring schedules to make room for science learning
  • time for professional learning and preparation
  • the need to elevate students' ability to work as teams and be positive team members
New state-wide science standards and an international drive for greater science learning is forwarding this effort. What motivates the good teaching and learning most in this area, in my opinion, is students' enthusiasm for the subject. 

I spent a few hours this morning updating my efforts as I plan for next week's exploration of Mixtures and Solutions. Since the depth we are reaching for in science education is relatively new, there is the need to remind students about positive routines and teamwork strategies. It's also important to remind students of what we've learned so far and what we will learn now and into the future--that keeps the learning move along in a positive direction. Further our team uses websites to give students and families a 24-7 access to all that we do in school so that they can review, repeat, or enrich the learning after hours if desired. 

There's more to do to make these units even better including the following:
  • continue to work on apt scheduling to fit this learning in more and better
  • make time for science reading in the schedule
  • continue to integrate other subjects into the science study because that's how we'll find better and more meaningful time for the subject.