Impact Stories

  • Jeanne Hughes

Creativity Is Key When Doing Hands-On Science from Home

Science at Stanley is hands-on, experiential, and collaborative. Take a 7th grade lesson on streams and erosion: normally done in the classroom with stream tables almost the size of twin beds, teams of students work with sand and water to understand how the speed and path of streams differ depending on topography, and how that affects erosion. This school year, with students at home without access to the specialized tables, 7th grade teacher Claire Scott challenged students to improvise with cookie sheets, books to prop them up, and the sand and water from their own backyards. Concept grasped, if in a different way.

Like for all teachers, students, and subjects, the pandemic and resulting pivot to schooling at home has required creativity on the part of Stanley science. But Anne Peterson, Science Department Chair and Stanley Science Teacher for the past 18 years, has been impressed by what science teachers have come up with.

“Everyone in the department has been awesome,” Ms. Peterson says. “We’ve been sharing ideas about what works. Kids are observing the phases of the moon from their driveways, learning about how water dissolves substances using salt from their kitchens, and getting away from the screens to draw diagrams of the structure of the ear for a unit on sound.” She notes that students are doing their part as well by remaining polite and engaged as zoom learners.

The Next Generation Science Standards, which guide the curriculum for science at Stanley, emphasize hands-on learning to prepare students with the broad foundation of math and science that will be needed for the jobs of the future.

Kris Rasmussen, who has taught at Stanley for 23 years and currently teaches 6th grade, emphasizes how students confront real world issues in their science lessons, such as the effects of pollution, how to use critical reasoning to evaluate information online, and reading graphs and charts to understand new information.

“LPIE is enormously impactful. Right now we are working with the LPIE-funded science instructors to rework LPIE lessons, such as one about weather, for zoom,” Rasmussen says. LPIE also makes sure that microscopes and other equipment are recalibrated every other year, prepares elementary school children in Lafayette with the science language that will be used throughout their school experience, and ensures that all kids in the school district receive the same specialized LPIE lessons.

In this year of all years, LPIE-funded science instructors are continuing to help students learn new concepts in science. Science is all around us, as we all surely remembered recently when families all over the country (and many Stanley science classes) watched the Mars Rover Perseverance successfully land on the surface of Mars. What a perfect theme for this pandemic year!