Myra Hudson was doing a fine job teaching science in her fifth-grade classroom at Miller Park Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. With nearly 15 years of teaching experience, Hudson knew plenty about science, going all the way back to her days as a student in a traditional science lab. In fact, by all accounts, she was an above-average science teacher at the elementary level, where science often is viewed warily by teachers better versed in reading and math.
The disruption for Hudson occurred late last school year when she was asked to implement a pilot program of Pitsco elementary science Missions. To say she was skeptical would be an understatement. To say she was eager for the change would be an overstatement.
“The science lab I grew up with, there were sinks, Bunsen burners, no carpet, only wood,” said Hudson. “And then I got in here for the training, and I thought, ‘This doesn’t look like a science lab.’”
Instead, there were seven four-student workstations with colorful bins of inviting, age-appropriate materials, uniquely laid-out binders with detailed information and assessments set up in “windows” and “intervals,” and a specific role for each member of the Crew: Commander, Information Specialist, Communications Specialist, and Materials Specialist.
“Before the professional development, I thought, ‘I don’t see how this is going to tie in to our curriculum.’ I did the Forces Mission by myself because I wanted to see all four roles and how it would work so I could internalize it. It got to the point where it didn’t matter what I thought about it because it’s all about how the kids react to it,” Hudson said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m looking at this wrong because of the way I was taught.’ This is a science lab, and they do so much in here.”
Read more of the Omaha Public Schools case study here.
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