Students at Seaside High School will see big changes this fall with a newly adopted science and technology curriculum.
A science program, STEMscopes, helps kids get experiential learning to meet national standards. A computer science program developed by Microsoft helps students get the kind of computer training needed to understand advanced programming.
The program was developed by teachers and scientists at Rice University in Houston to meet national standards for science, known as the Next Generation Science Standards.
“Teachers were very excited during the training today,” Sande Brown, the Seaside School District’s curriculum director, said after a teacher training at the high school Wednesday. “We know that excitement will translate to the students once school starts. Excited students are engaged students, and engaged students are learning.”
The program focuses on connecting science to reading, writing, speaking and math and helps students prepare for careers in science and technology, Brown said. Students learn by doing, not just watching, and kids work in groups to solve problems.
“We are also excited about this curriculum because it is our school district’s first completely online curriculum,” Brown said. “By purchasing this online curriculum instead of textbooks, we were able to save money and use some of that money to purchase computers and science materials and equipment for the classrooms.”
Although the curriculum is online, teachers have the flexibility of downloading and printing paper copies of worksheets, information pages or tests online in a program that varies by grade level.
“The focus, however, is to have students doing science, not just be on the computer,” Brown said.
The text is in both English and Spanish, and the computer can read out loud text in both languages.
The “textbook” language is differentiated by grade level, above grade level, and below grade level so students of a range of reading levels can access the new learning, Brown said. It also has a connection to news and other books on relevant science topics.
The program is easily updated and the company makes corrections or suggested revisions quickly.
The program focuses on what educators call the “5 E’s” of science education, Brown said: engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate.
“This is a big leap forward in having the new bonus of having an online resource,” Seaside School District Superintendent Sheila Roley said.
The school district typically buys new textbooks every seven years. The online component will provide the opportunity for continuous updates, she added.
“The critical thing to take away is that we still believe that science instruction is a process of discovery for students,” Roley said. “The heart of the program is still science.”