A project-based science curriculum where learning is organized around driving questions is highly motivating to students – and can even attract some press coverage!
Here are examples of projects at Parker that are relevant to science and also meaningful to kids.
STEM students study stem cells It is great to get good press about Parker and this week we were doubly gifted. Both the Times Union and WNYT reported on our middle school trip to the Neural Stem Cell Institute. Here are the links to the terrific coverage of Parker kids in action: TU and WNYT
The field trip was organized by science teacher Kate Perry and Dr. Chris Fasano, husband of new math and reading teacher Antonietta. Chris is a scientist at NSCI doing research using stem cells to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
During the field trip, students learned about how to grow stem cells, NSCI’s progress on curing macular degeneration, and about habits of mind of successful scientists, like persevering and questioning. They also got to perform experiments in the lab that had been especially set up for their visit. As one student said, “I really want to learn more about stem cell research because it’s so cool and interesting!”
Rev ‘er up! This coming week, two middle school classes will work with engineer Len Berube on the mechanics of combustion engines. Students will form teams of engineers with a project manager to explore engines in the context of scenarios where this knowledge could be crucial, such as when the lights go out at an arctic research lab.
Len is donating used engines and complete tool boxes with all that students will need to disassemble and reassemble the engines. An understanding of the mechanics of combustion engines will give them the base for further study of electric and fuel cell powered vehicles.
Down by the River On October 16, Parker 2-3’s and 6-7’s will participate in the Hudson River snapshot day, collecting data from a site at the Hudson where we have been stationed each year for six years. This longitudinal study is coordinated by the DEC and Lamont -Dougherty Lab at Columbia University. The data that is collected by our students is part of a state wide study of human and weather impact on our water.
Backed up by Research In an article today in MindShift, a KQED online publication, Ingfei Chen asks, Can Project-Based Learning Close Gaps in Science Education? New research supports what we intuitively know: hands-on science spurs students to acquire the knowledge and skills they need. It gives them a thirst for more.