Sixth-grade science students at Churchville-Chili Middle School were excited, their discussions animated. They were studying ecosystems and populations, carefully observing and recording data on small groups of fish, snails and earthworms.
The students considered the roles each life form would play when added to the mini-ecosystems — a terrarium and an aquarium — they created. Study teams made hypotheses about what might happen as their experiments proceeded.
This is an example of how the state Next Generation Science Learning Standards are used at Churchville-Chili Central School District.
“The most notable difference since we’ve shifted our curriculum is the increased level of student engagement and enthusiasm,” said Angela George, a science teacher at the middle school. “Our children are participating in hands-on learning and scientific method. Lessons are far more memorable when students have additional independence and responsibility.
“The world is complex and interconnected. Our students are learning the skills they will need to navigate it successfully as problem solvers.”
Teacher Kristen Kellogg’s fifth- and sixth-grade students are learning teamwork and research skills. As they gathered for the day’s lesson on fertilizer and pollution, the mood was expressed by student Lili Garcia, who said, “I love science! It’s my favorite.”
After examining samples of organic and chemical fertilizers, students used a model to demonstrate how pollutants from factories and fertilizer runoff from farms and backyards get into the water supply.
“Now I understand why beaches are closed sometimes and why I should wash my apple before I eat it,” Lonnie Witcher said.
“Hands-on activities like these are great,” Kellogg said. “My students make connections quickly when they can get involved and actually see abstract concepts in action. They are observing thoughtfully and making insightful hypotheses on cause and effect. Some of their proposals are original and promising, ideas that I’ve never heard before.”