Bringing the Excitement and Fun of Science to School (and Afterschool)
Elementary aged children are natural scientists. They are curious and love to figure out how things work.
Giving them guided experiences with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can motivate them and give them skills to succeed in school. STEM activities in the classroom and afterschool can complement each other and prepare students for future careers, but the teachers in these different venues don’t often have the opportunity to coordinate efforts and learn from each other. Scientists and engineers who want to help don’t know effective ways to help children learn.
Young Science Scholars, a new University-Community partnership has created learning communities at three elementary schools and associated afterschool programs: Emerson, Hawthorne and Lowell, MSCR (Madison School and Community Recreation) and the Goodman Center. The partnership brings classroom teachers, after-school teachers, scientists and students from UW–Madison together to learn from each other with the goal of strengthening science teaching in all the programs. The project is co-led by Kathy Huncosky, Science Resource Teacher with MMSD and Dolly Ledin, UW Institute for Biology Education.
UW–Madison scientists and trained UW students provide support in two classrooms and the afterschool program at each school, engaging children in authentic science. Scientists learn about teaching from the teachers. Teachers learn how scientists think and work. The “learning community” of teachers and scientists meets monthly to share experiences and share ideas for engaging children in the process of science (doing what scientists and engineers do).
Young Science Scholars is one project of the ARMS (Adult Role Models in Science) Program at UW–Madison’s Institute for Biology Education. As it’s name suggests, ARMS helps adults: parents, teachers, scientists and university students to serve as effective role models to help all children develop confidence and competence in science. ARMS trains UW students and community volunteers to lead children in science experiences, provides professional development in STEM for afterschool staff, and provides resources to schools and community centers to build their capacity in leading science. The project is funded by the UW Madison Morgridge Center for Public Service, and Ledin and MMSD staff are also working with the Foundation for Madison Public Schools to develop further funding. They would like to continue and expand the two-year project, which seeks to build capacity. As members of the learning communities develop new skills and innovative ideas for science teaching, these teachers/leaders will be able to model and provide feedback for other science teachers at their schools and eventually other teachers across the district.
We welcome the involvement of parents and community members who would like to help in classrooms and afterschool programs at the three schools. No expertise is required, just an interest in learning along with the children and teachers!
For more information, email Dolly Ledin or call 608-263-4840.