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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Woodfill Elementary Students Inspired by New Science Program

Woodfill students present on their new Inspire Science curriculum.
--> Do you know what is the best mix of carbon dioxide, water and light for plants to grow? Or what processes information we take in using our senses — our brain, our nervous system or our senses themselves?

Students at Fort Thomas elementary schools are finding answers to these questions and more using a new interactive science curriculum, aptly named Inspire Science. The new program has excited students and teachers alike.

Students from Samuel Woodfill Elementary shared what they’ve learned and demonstrated how the program works at the January meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent School Board.

They presented a video that showed some of the hands-on experiments and experiences they’ve been having in class.

How Inspire Science works

Fifth-grader Sophie U. explained how the program works: "We use the five 'Es' to learn about our science content. The five Es are engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. Each lesson starts with something that gets us to engage in the learning target for the lesson, then we get to explore with an investigation or with a simulation on the iPad."

After the hands-on portion of the lesson, the students explain what they’ve learned using a series of critical questions, she explained.

Fourth grader Lily presented the video showing some of the things classes have done with the program this year. She said she liked a recent lesson in which students explored ways to separate out elements in a mixture. The students started with a mix of iron filings, sand. salt and water and used magnets and other methods to separate each item.

Hands-on and engaging

Intermediate science teachers Kelly Smith and John Gesenhues chose Inspire Science by McGraw Hill Education after intense exploration last year.

"Each lesson has an engage portion, a hands-on activity … and incorporates a simulation, math or graphing exercise to go along with it," explained Gesenhues.

The teachers also liked the convenience of all-inclusive modules and supporting materials.

"It’s great. My favorite part is that all the materials come with the program. Makes it so easy to do these lessons. No more running to Krogers to get the salt, the sand, figure out where to get sodium chloride. It’s all in the tub…And there are lots of hands-on activities," said Smith.

The program also makes use of computer simulation when it is not possible to do an experiment in the time or space available. Lily demonstrated an interactive exploration of how light, water and carbon dioxide could affect the growth of a plant. She tried different scenarios using the simulator to see how each amount affected a plant.

After the simulation or hands-on activity, students are asked questions about what worked, what didn’t and why, she explained. They are also given scenarios with possible answers and are required to pick the correct answer and explain the science behind their choice.

Woodfill Principal Keith Faust gave the teachers much credit for their careful work in choosing the program. "Last year they spent almost the whole year investigating different textbook companies, different programs. And we sat together in this room and decided this would be the best one for our students…so far very pleased with the results of it."

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