For some of us, it might conjure up memories of vinegar and baking soda volcanoes or the recurring and noteworthy phrase: Mitochondria are the center of the cell’s powerhouse.
But for the College of Education students in Linda Carlson’s Science Methods class, the science class took on a whole new meaning. They spent the last semester researching ways and means to develop an integrated science curriculum for elementary school students.
“The target of the Threatened Species Project was threefold,” explains Professor Carlson. “It was an opportunity to learn about endangered species as a culmination of class work, it was an opportunity for students to showcase their creativity, and finally, it was multi-layered.”
“Science is a wonderful part of a child’s education, and a science curriculum that develops these skills will create lifelong learners who are curious to know the world around them.”
Students in Professor Carlson’s class selected research on an endangered animal, then produced a 3D project containing important facts about their animal and wrote a persuasive letter from the point of view of their chosen animal. The project culminated in the development of an evaluation form that can be used to classify each component of this science project for the elementary level.
Students learn different skills in science, such as how to speak and write like a scientist. They also learn how to conduct research and experiments,” says Sarah Birdsall, a student at SOE, whose project focused on the Steller sea lion. “Science is a wonderful part of a child’s education, and a science curriculum that develops these skills will create lifelong learners who are curious to know the world around them.”
For SOE student Sasha Sackichand ’23, the project was a way for her to explore her creative side and connect more deeply with the experiences she had as an elementary school student. For her project, the pangolin chose and created a model using wire, modeling clay, and individually applied cardboard scales.
“After learning more about integrating the science curriculum into the elementary school classroom, I definitely appreciate the science projects I completed in elementary school,” Sasha says. “I didn’t realize its importance at the time, but I now realize how each project has expanded my understanding of scientific research.”
“Children are naturally curious about the world and want to know more about their discoveries.”
Introducing future teachers to the theories and methods used to learn, teach and assess science and technology in elementary school and demonstrating how investigative science can be used to answer questions and solve problems is critical to preparing future teachers.
Children are naturally curious about the world and want to know more about their discoveries. “Having a strong scientific approach enhances this curiosity by having them learn and make connections through scientific research,” Sasha says. “The skills included in science curricula can also be translated into more advanced capabilities, such as conducting and writing research.”
Through these innovative teaching methods, teachers and elementary students alike will be able to continue to explore science in an effective and impactful way. Science education certainly won’t end with a baking soda volcano.