Science teachers at Black Hawk Middle School received a collection of big, red storage boxes filled with a prewritten module binder that gives teachers instructions, goals and objectives for teaching a particular science lesson.
The boxes, from MySci, also include classroom supplies. Each MySci lesson is planned for 45 minutes, although teachers can adjust to suit, so they may run longer or shorter.
MySci is the creation of educators with Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership. The MySci Resource Center at the Institute for School Partnership creates instructional kits for teachers for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“(This science program) is more hands-on and engaging for students. They’ll be doing the experiments themselves,” said Katie Burle, science department chairperson at Black Hawk Middle.
“They’re going to have to do a lot more independent thinking but they’ll also be working in small groups, and there will be some teacher-led lessons.”
Warrenton School District Co-superintendant Dr. Jill Schowe, said the state of Missouri decided not to use the Common Core Standards any longer. Instead, officials approved the Missouri Learning Standards.
Because all four core subject areas were changed at the same time, Schowe said the district needed to examine its science, social studies, mathematics and English language arts curriculums. She heard about the My-Sci program and arranged a meeting with representatives at Washington University.
“We took a team of teachers representing all three elementary buildings and met with the staff. These teachers’ eyes lit up, and they, almost in unison, said, ‘This is exactly what we need,’ ” Schowe said.
She learned, too, that the program was available for the middle school. In middle school earth science is taught in sixth grade, life sciences in seventh grade and physical science in eighth grade. MySci provided several modules for each of them, or about five per school year for each class.
“We have been preparing for the new Missouri Learning Standards since the beginning of last year, and while we had a good idea for what we would teach, the increased emphasis on creating hands-on learning experiences had us concerned about resources. Those concerns are gone now,” said Brad Ross, assistant principal at Black Hawk Middle School.
He added, “Washington University is providing our teachers with everything they’ll need to get our students doing more science in-line with the new state standards. Our students will be doing more inquiry work, applying the concepts our teachers will teach them to the applications that MySci is providing, which will really ramp up the critical thinking and problem solving they will be doing.”
Burle said the benefit of using MySci at both the elementary and middle schools is that students progressively build on their science knowledge. She said the program also infuses reading, writing and math, so students build on other key skills as well.
"I think kids already love science, I think it’s going to make then love it even more,” said Burle.
Schowe said, “We are excited about the level of student engagement and the hands-on opportunities our students will have.”