SCIENCE EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW'S LEADERS
In a commitment to meet the crucial need to improve science education for all students, the Fountain Valley School District has participated in the Beckman@Science program since the 1999-2000 school year. Prior to its involvement, FVSD teachers had limited materials to teach science. Very few science investigations took place in the classroom and science was a textbook program for most students. In the past ten years there has been a dramatic change. Beckman@Science has provided 96% of our teachers with professional development. Kits that were once stored at each school site and refurbished sporadically are now fully refurbished and delivered three times a year to every classroom teacher. Currently 169 credentialed teachers and 4,557 students are now engaging in active learning of science concepts and processes.
The Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation has given us a solid investment in the science education of our youth, educators, and community. The benefits of this program assure the following:
- increased student involvement
- multiple ways of learning
- sequential phases of cognition
- complete understanding and application of the scientific method
- active construction of meaningful knowledge
- collaborative professional development
- standards-based assessment
There are two key components of the Beckman@Science program that made it so successful for FVSD teachers and students: the training program and a system for refurbishing the kits. FVSD has teamed with Huntington Beach City School District and the Westminster School District to form a ScienceWorks Consortium for professional development and kit refurbishment. This has allowed us to provide on-going training for all K-6 teachers. Teachers are required to attend module training prior to being sent a kit for classroom instruction and there is on-going training for new teachers and teachers changing grade levels. The consortium shares a science coordinator, professional development, refurbishing warehouse, and refurbishing staff. This successful and innovative partnership has sustained our science reform efforts. We are very proud of the progress that has been made in science instruction during these nine years. During the first year of the program 22% of FVSD K-6 teachers were trained in two or more modules; to date 96% of our K-6 teachers have been trained in two or more modules. During the last school year 97% of FVSD K-6 teachers taught two or more science modules.
IMPACT ON MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND FAMILIES
During the 2008-2009 school year ScienceWorks Consortium, Beckman@Science, and Orange Coast College hosted its 9th annual Community Science Night. ScienceWorks distributes the tickets for this event to their schools. Over 8,000 family members attended the event which showcased the science laboratories including astronomy, geology, marine science, anatomy, chemistry, physics, anthropology, allied health science, food and nutrition, computer science, and technology programs. Over 250 OCC students, 30 faculty members, and 25 ScienceWorks Consortium teachers presented hands-on activities. One of our goals is to have all of the Orange County Colleges host a Community Science Night. Golden West College will host one this year in September 2010. It is obvious that an interest in science is growing.
In our middle schools we see a dramatic increase in students' extracurricular activities linked directly to science. Every middle school in the Fountain Valley School District has after school science clubs. Sixth grade Masuda teacher Jeff Siemens reports, "Our students are having fun learning science and seeing its real life applications. The Beckman funded science investigations have provided the structure, and autonomy to inquire and experience their world first hand which is always the most effective way to learn." At Masuda Middle School over 100 students are active members of the Environmental Club. The students are choosing to spend their free time doing investigations, locating environmental issues to solve at Masuda, planting trees, and researching careers in science. At Fulton Middle School, The Planet Club is the busiest club on campus. There projects included spending an entire weekend participating in an Earth Day Cleanup at Huntington State Beach. We believe that this exemplifies just what Dr. Arnold Beckman wanted when he stated, "I would like to find a way to get young kids interested and excited about science."
FOCUS FOR FUTURE SCIENCE EDUCATION
The greatest challenge to the ScienceWorks Consortium is to meet the constant growing financial demands of this dynamic and innovative science program. Parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and business partners have formed the ScienceWorks Advocacy Committee. They are currently developing a campaign to grow community awareness and establish science advocates in all sectors of our community. With this wonderful collaboration of the business, school, and family communities we hope to sustain this successful program. Gerald F. Wheeler, Executive Director of the National Science Teacher's Association stated, "A nation's ability to remain a leader relies on how well that nation educates its students in science and technology." Knowing this, we respectfully thank the Beckman Foundation for helping us establish this program and graciously ask for community support to continue our wonderful program.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The ScienceWorks Material Resource Center always appreciates assistance from our community volunteers. Whether you can donate a couple of hours a week or even a month, you decide! Click here for further details. Thank you from all of us here at ScienceWorks!
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For further information regarding FVSD's involvement with the Beckman@Science program, please contact Anne Silavs, Assistant Superintendent, Instruction at (714) 843-3285Top of Page