The Science 21 curriculum was introduced in all three of Rye’s elementary schools at the start of the school year.
The Science 21 curriculum was introduced in all three of Rye’s elementary schools at the start of the school year. Devised by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, Science 21 is designed to prepare elementary students for the transition to middle school by providing them with a strong foundation in earth, life, and physical sciences. Students learn how to conduct an experiment as well as write up a lab report.
Teachers participated in three training sessions at BOCES before implementing the curriculum in their classrooms. During a Parent Teacher Organization meeting at Milton School earlier this month, Milton Principal Dr. JoAnne Nardone and several teachers led a panel discussion summarizing Science 21 and its benefits.
The Science 21 curriculum is aligned with the state’s standards for mathematics, science, and technology, and emphasizes investigations that are student-directed and relevant to the childrens’ lives. Hands-on, inquiry-based science with integrated math, language arts, and technology achieves a balance between process and content. The technology component includes SMARTBoard lessons, virtual labs, websites, and probe-ware opportunities. The library also complements the curriculum, supplying teachers with resources, adding science-themed books to story time, and incorporating science through author visits.
As Dr. Nardone explained, the goal of the curriculum is “to keep the students interested, motivated, confident, and engaged at a high level.” She further described it as a “personalized program that supports each individual’s talent and potential.”
Kindergarten curriculum uses the students’ natural curiosity to explore the world around them. Students are encouraged to ask questions about what they want to know before exploring a concept.
First graders will organize themselves to investigate attributes and properties of objects, states of matter, and living things, such as pill bugs and hermit crabs. Teacher Amanda Massett explained, “The students will be thinking and acting like scientists.”
Second-grade students will use tools to measure changes in energy, living things, and the environment.
Third graders will examine how scientists investigate the cycles of plants, electricity, water, and animals. Teacher Allison Bily is actually letting students experiment with solids, liquids, and gasses, which makes it more interesting for everyone.
Fourth-grade students will explore simple machines, and learning about digestion, nutrients, food chains and food webs, as well as the constructive and destructive forces of the earth. Teacher Debra Fishman said, “It’s about investigating normal, every-day things and what kind of science is involved.”
Fifth-grade curriculum looks at interactions in the natural world (chemical matter, the human body, and the environment). Teacher Scott Cifone demonstrated an experiment designed to show students how infection spreads.
The work fosters cooperation and parents are encouraged to ask children about class experiments, read science update letters sent by teachers, and plan family outings to science centers, botanical gardens, and museums. Resources are available for both teachers and parents at www.pnwboces.org/science21.